Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for April 23, 2022

Newsline: Top U.S. diplomat heads to Ukraine Sunday

Two top U.S. officials will head to Kyiv on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Saturday at a news conference. (https://news.yahoo.com/antony-blinken-lloyd-austin-headed-182200548.html) Zelenskyy, who took questions from Ukranian and international media for more than an hour Saturday, said he will hold talks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin as they travel to Ukraine’s capital city. The White House declined to comment on Saturday. It will be the first official visit by U.S. government officials since Russia began invading Ukraine on February 24 invasion. The Russian invasion enters its third month Sunday.

Newsline: Japan’s top diplomat eyes stronger military

Japan’s foreign minister promised his country would bolster its military to help the United States maintain regional security during a visit on Saturday to a U.S. aircraft carrier patrolling Asian waters. “Today I was able to experience first hand the frontline of national security,” Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters in the hangar deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln sailing in waters south of Tokyo. Japan will “significantly strengthen” its defence capabilities and work closely with the United States, he added. (https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japans-foreign-minister-promises-stronger-military-visit-us-carrier-2022-04-23/) Hayashi flew out to the aircraft carrier from Tokyo with U.S. Ambassador Rahm Emanuel, who warned that the invasion of Ukraine, which Russian describes as a “special operation”, posed security risks in regions far beyond Europe, including in the Indo Pacific. Hayashi spoke amid concern in Japan that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which it sees as an affront to international diplomatic norms, could encourage neighbouring China to use military muscle to win control of Taiwan and threaten nearby Japanese islands. Japan has also expressed concern about Beijing’s deepening security ties with Moscow, that have included joint drills in waters surrounding Japan. China has said its intentions in Asia are peaceful.

Newsline: EU, US diplomats slam China over Russia ties

The European Union and United States diplomats have slammed China for allegedly spreading “disinformation” over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, warning that tacit backing for Moscow does not come without consequences. “[Chinese] state media has parroted the Kremlin’s lies, and conspiracy theories, including absurd claims that Ukraine and Nato and the EU pose a security threat to Russia,” US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said after three days of talks with senior EU officials in Brussels about China, Nato and the Indo-Pacific. “The United States sees significant alignment between our approach and the EU’s approach to [China],” Sherman said. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/eu-us-slam-china-over-093000390.html) This came as senior diplomats from both sides attempted to project unity on a transatlantic approach to dealing with China as they met the press on Friday. A joint EU-US statement following the talks vowed to push Chinese leaders on issues like sanctions circumvention, and “reaffirmed that such support would have consequences for our respective relationships with China”. However, Sherman and EU foreign service chief Stefano Sannino sidestepped a question from the Post about whether both sides were on the same page as to what those consequences might be. Chinese state media and official spokespersons have frequently repeated disputed claims about the Russian war, including over the presence of American bioweapons in Ukraine.

Newsline: U.S. says backs Lithuania in row with China over Taiwan de facto embassy

The United States backs Lithuania in a dispute with China over Taiwan, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told Lithuania’s finance minister on Friday. “(Adeyemo) reaffirmed strong U.S. support for Lithuania as it faces economic coercion from the People’s Republic of China,” the U.S. treasury said in a readout. (https://news.yahoo.com/u-says-backs-lithuania-row-011033737.html) China has suspended imports from Lithuania after the EU nation allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in its capital, angering Beijing which regards the democratically ruled island as its own territory.

Newsline: Iran says talks with Saudi Arabia resumed in Baghdad

Rival regional powers Iran and Saudi Arabia resumed talks in the Iraqi capital after they were suspended in March, Iran’s semi-official Nour News reported on Saturday. There was no confirmation from Saudi Arabia or Iraq on the resumption of the talks. “The latest positive meeting has raised hopes for the two countries to take steps toward the resumption of ties,” said Nour News, which is affiliated with the country’s Supreme National Security Council. It did not say when the fifth round of talks were held. (https://www.investing.com/news/world-news/iran-says-talks-with-regional-rival-saudi-arabia-resumed-in-baghdad-2809046) Riyadh severed ties with Tehran in 2016 after Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in the Iranian capital following the execution of a Shi’ite cleric in Saudi Arabia. Iran suspended the talks in March without giving a reason for the decision that came as a new round of negotiations was due to start. The move came after Saudi Arabia executed 81 men in its biggest mass execution in decades. Tehran condemned the executions that activists said included 41 Shi’ite Muslims. Predominantly Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran, which are locked in proxy conflicts around the region, started direct talks last year to try to contain tensions.