Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for April 20, 2022

Newsline: US diplomacy in Ethiopia seen as hold-thy-tongue policy

Silence is golden? That may be the case in an untimely turn in American diplomacy aimed at one of Africa’s worst civil wars and a humanitarian crisis that calls out for global assistance. Just three months after being appointed as the United States special envoy to the Horn of Africa, David Satterfield abruptly announced his departure last week. Sometimes the clearest messages are unspoken. Just before his departure, Mr. Satterfield told Reuters that U.S. efforts in Ethiopia are “focused squarely” on getting aid into Ethiopia’s embattled region of Tigray as well as other war-struck areas. “What we do, what we say – all is focused upon achieving and maintaining that goal,” he said. (https://news.yahoo.com/hold-thy-tongue-diplomacy-ethiopia-152306974.html) The civil war that began in late 2020 has stalemated with a government blockade of Tigray that effectively bars humanitarian aid and outside communications. According to various estimates, half a million people have been killed and more than 2.4 million displaced from their homes. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been soundly criticized for the war’s conduct. In a rare rebuke earlier this year, the Nobel Committee, which awarded Mr. Abiy its Peace Prize in 2019 for ending a long military stalemate with neighboring Eritrea, said he bore “special responsibility” to end the conflict. But open criticism has done little to alter the course of the civil war in Ethiopia. Mr. Satterfield’s departure in silence may be a subtle signal of U.S. concern but one that does not openly shame Mr. Abiy. It keeps the focus on action, not assigned guilt.

Newsline: U.S. top diplomat seeks cooperation on migration at Panama summit

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday called for more regional cooperation to help communities strained by inflows of refugees and migrants, as he sought to rally Western Hemisphere nations to tackle record migration. Addressing foreign ministers from more than 20 nations on Wednesday at a hotel outside of Panama City, Blinken said more people were “on the move, forcibly displaced from their homes” than at any time since World War Two. “The only lasting, sustainable response to irregular migration is to tackle its root causes, but that takes time, and in the meantime many cities and towns simply don’t have the resources they need to provide for their own citizens, much less meet the needs of migrants,” Blinken said. (https://www.fxempire.com/news/article/u-s-top-diplomat-blinken-seeks-cooperation-on-migration-at-panama-summit-973730) Record numbers of migrants attempted to cross into the United States from Mexico in Joe Biden’s first year in office, piling political pressure on the Democratic president. Other countries in the region have taken in migrants from countries like Venezuela, Cuba and Haiti.

Newsline: Peru Ambassador Intruder Appears to Be ‘Isolated’ Incident

The fatal shooting of an intruder at the Washington D.C. home of the Peruvian ambassador appears to be an isolated incident, according to authorities. Metropolitan Police Department Chief of Police Robert Contee III stated during a press conference Wednesday morning that a shooting resulted in the death of a man who broke into the home of the ambassador to Peru. Members of the United States Secret Service who responded to the incident had shot and killed the man early Wednesday morning. (https://www.newsweek.com/peru-ambassador-intruder-appears-isolated-incident-police-1699375) When asked about whether more security would be added to the other homes in the area, the chief of police said that the incident appeared to be isolated.

Newsline: UN Secretary-General Guterres requests meetings in Moscow, Kyiv to end war

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has requested to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss “urgent steps” to end the fighting in Ukraine. The request was made in a letter handed to the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations. A separate request was made to the Ukraine mission at the U.N. for the secretary-general to visit Kyiv. “The Secretary-General said, at this time of great peril and consequence, he would like to discuss urgent steps to bring about peace in Ukraine and the future of multilateralism based on the Charter of the United Nations and international law,” Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the secretary-general, said in a statement. “He noted that both Ukraine and the Russian Federation are founding members of the United Nations and have always been strong supporters of this Organization.” (https://thehill.com/policy/international/3274352-un-secretary-general-guterres-requests-meetings-in-moscow-kyiv-to-end-war/) Guterres push for face-to-face diplomacy with Putin comes as the Russian leader has directed an intensive, renewed assault on Ukraine’s eastern territory. U.S. and European officials have described Putin as extremely isolated and cut off from accurate information over his military losses in Ukraine.

Newsline: Republicans call on Blinken to reopen Kyiv embassy

Two Senate Republicans are calling on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to reopen the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv as Russia appears to be shifting its military forces away from the capital city. Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and Steve Daines (D-Mont.) penned a letter, obtained by Politico, to Blinken on Wednesday urging him to “fully open” the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, arguing that such a move would “enhance cooperation with a democratic partner” and “symbolically affirm” America’s commitment to Ukraine’s territory. They said they are pressing for the reopening because Russia has pulled its forces from areas around Kyiv. “With Ukraine’s successful defense of Kyiv and Russia’s subsequent withdrawal of forces from the areas surrounding the capital, we encourage you to fully open the United States embassy without delay,” the senators wrote. (https://thehill.com/news/senate/3273961-republicans-call-on-blinken-to-reopen-kyiv-embassy/) “Ukraine faces enormous military, economic, and humanitarian challenges as a result of this war. America’s restored diplomatic presence in Kyiv will enhance cooperation with a democratic partner as it wages an existential defense and symbolically affirm our nation’s commitment to Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty,” they added.

Newsline: Russian envoy pledges to retaliate if Warsaw embassy cannot work

Russia will retaliate against Poland if its embassy in Warsaw stops working because it cannot receive fresh funds from Moscow, its ambassador warned. “We have some cash reserves, but they are not unlimited and unless the situation changes, after some time it may so happen that we shall not be in a position to pay our bills,” Sergiy Andreev, 63, told Reuters. (https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/russia-will-retaliate-if-its-warsaw-embassy-cannot-work-russian-envoy-says-2022-04-19/) In March, Poland expelled 45 Russian diplomats over allegations of working for Russian intelligence and blocked the embassy’s bank accounts. Moscow, which dismissed the accusations as baseless, retaliated in kind.

Newsline: Sweden sees foreign countries playing role in recent riots

Sweden’s government suspects that actors from abroad incited violent riots in several Swedish cities last week. The Foreign Ministry in Stockholm posted a Twitter thread devoted to what it termed “a disinformation campaign.” Crowds threw rocks and burned cars and trash cans after a Danish far-right provocateur announced plans to hold meetings in Sweden. Rasmus Paludan has burned copies of the Quran at events in Denmark where he also bashes Islam, and the news he wanted to do the same in Sweden sparked anger. Paludan, who holds dual Danish-Swedish citizenship, “seems for some reason to hate Sweden and try to harm Sweden. I do not understand why” Justice Minister Morgan Johansson said. In an interview with Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet published Wednesday, Johansson referred to online claims that surfaced earlier this year about Swedish social service agencies allegedly kidnapping Muslim children. “There are many signs that they have been running here as well, campaigning and supporting this in various ways,” the minister said. “We see how the image of Sweden is set by some of these actors in the Middle East,” Aftonbladet quoted Johansson as saying. “It is also addressed by a couple of governments, in Iraq and in Iran.” (https://news.yahoo.com/sweden-sees-foreign-countries-playing-133813719.html) After word of Paludan’s planned stunt reached Iran and the United Arab Emirates, the governments in Tehran and Dubai summoned Swedish diplomats to protest.

Newsline: ‘Intruder’ shot at Peruvian ambassador’s residence in Washington

U.S. Secret Service officers shot “an intruder” Wednesday at the residence of the Peruvian ambassador to the United States in Washington, authorities said. The shooting was reported at the residence in the Forest Hills neighborhood of northwest Washington. The Secret Service said the person was shot by uniformed Secret Service officers at the home “following a confrontation.” Officials provided no additional details of the circumstances of the shooting. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/police-responding-to-shooting-at-peruvian-ambassadors-home/2022/04/20/7f9ac766-c0a9-11ec-b5df-1fba61a66c75_story.html) The extent of the person’s injuries was also not known. The Secret Service said no officers were injured. The agency has jurisdiction at embassies and diplomatic residences.

Newsline: Western nations are due to stage diplomatic snubs to protest against Russia at G20 meeting

Western nations are preparing to stage coordinated walk-outs and other diplomatic snubs to protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at Wednesday’s meeting of G20 finance ministers in Washington, their officials said. While some in Western capitals argue that Russia’s actions should mean it is excluded from global meetings altogether, that is not a view shared by others in the Group of 20 big economies, including notably China and Indonesia, which is chairing the group this year. Moscow confirmed on Tuesday Finance Minister Anton Siluanov would lead Russia’s delegation at the talks despite repeated protestations by Western diplomats that they could not go ahead as usual during a war in which thousands of civilians have died in bombardments by Russian troops. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen plans to avoid G20 sessions joined by Russian officials on the sidelines of International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings. But Yellen will attend an opening session on the Ukraine war regardless of Russian participation, a U.S. Treasury official said. (https://news.yahoo.com/delegate-protests-over-russia-upstage-145553304.html) British finance minister Rishi Sunak also will not attend certain G20 sessions, a British government source told Reuters. And a French finance ministry official meanwhile expected some ministers from Group of Seven nations to leave their seats when their Russian peer was due to speak.

Newsline: Sino-Solomon security pact seen as Australia’s foreign policy failure

Sending the Pacific minister instead of the foreign minister to the Solomon Islands amid security negotiations with China was the right course of action, the prime minister maintains. Scott Morrison defended his national security credentials in the wake of Labor branding the Sino-Solomon security pact Australia’s worst foreign policy failure since World War II. Diplomacy in the region cannot be heavy-handed or impinge on the sovereignty of the nation, Mr Morrison said. “I’m very conscious of how visits are perceived within the Pacific. This was the right calibrated way to address this issue with the prime minister,” Mr Morrison said. Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong says a Chinese security agreement with a nation 1600km from Cairns has made the region less secure under Mr Morrison’s watch. “The government should have acted sooner. What this deal signifies is that Australia is no longer for the Solomon Islands a nation to whom they turn to meet their challenges in every instance,” Senator Wong said. Wong said the signing of a Sino-Solomons security pact is a major foreign policy failure. (https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/australia/sino-solomon-pact-foreign-policy-failure/ar-AAWnIdU?li=AAhMIBF) But Mr Morrison says “you can’t always be fully persuasive on these issues”, outlining his respect for the nation’s sovereignty.