Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 10, 2022

Newsline: US State Department employees posted overseas call for equal access to reproductive services

More than 200 American foreign service officers are calling on the Biden administration to ensure that they have access to reproductive health services in the countries where they serve. In a letter to State Department leadership in December, which was not released publicly until last week, the diplomats said that they have encountered obstacles to getting reproductive health care in their host countries. “All diplomats, and their family members, deserve the same access to timely, life-saving health care overseas as domestically, and when that is not possible for any reason — including host country law — to be afforded prompt medical evacuation to such care,” they wrote in the letter to Carol Z. Perez, the director general of the Foreign Service. The diplomats said they are “routinely denied access” to such care and have experienced difficulty obtaining family planning services, rape kits, emergency contraceptives and abortion pills. “We deserve access to the same rights we have in our own country when we serve overseas and demand that reproductive rights be guaranteed in the Foreign Affairs Manual,” they said. (https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/state-dept-employees-call-equal-access-reproductive-services-overseas-rcna28090) The letter said American diplomats based in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America who experienced reproductive health emergencies were instructed to resort to using local options available to them on their own. The State Department was not immediately available to comment.

Newsline: EU coordinator heads to Tehran in bid to save nuclear deal

The European Union coordinator of talks to revive Iran’s nuclear accord with world powers said Tuesday he was traveling to Tehran, as the bloc makes a last-ditch effort to salvage the deal after a weekslong standstill. Enrique Mora said he’d meet with Iranian negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani during his visit to the Iranian capital. “Work on closing the remaining gaps of this negotiation continues,” he tweeted. Officials in Tehran confirmed Mora’s visit, seeking to portray it as proof of Iran’s diplomatic engagement and attention to economic problems. “(The visit) shows the control of the government over the most important file,” said Ali Shamkhani of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. (https://www.clickorlando.com/news/world/2022/05/10/eu-coordinator-heads-to-tehran-in-bid-to-save-nuclear-deal/) The landmark accord in 2015 granted Iran sanctions relief in exchange for strict curbs on its nuclear program. Former President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal four years ago, piling sanctions on Iran under a policy of “maximum pressure.” In response, Iran has gradually accelerated its enrichment of uranium — including a small amount to 60% enrichment, a short, technical step from weapons-grade levels.

Newsline: Germany FM reopens embassy in Kyiv

Germany’s foreign minister has reopened her country’s embassy in Kyiv that was closed more than two months ago following the Russian invasion. Annalena Baerbock said Tuesday that the diplomatic mission would work with a skeleton staff, headed by Ambassador Anka Feldhusen. Baerbock, the first German Cabinet member to visit Ukraine since the start of the war, pledged further support to Kyiv. Baerbock also stressed that Germany will reduce its dependence on Russian energy supplies “to zero, forever.” (https://www.wsbtv.com/news/world/live-updates-germany/VJX3HDBKG2TBCJRPYE24MX6AIM/) The German government has said it will end imports of Russian oil and coal this year and of natural gas from Russia by 2024 at the latest.

Newsline: Russia not planning to close embassies in Europe

Russia is not planning to proactively close its embassies in Europe in response to unfriendly measures by the West and expansion of sanctions against Moscow, the RIA news agency reported on Tuesday, citing a deputy foreign minister. “This is not in our tradition,” Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told RIA. “Therefore, we believe that the work of diplomatic representative offices is important.” (https://www.fxempire.com/news/article/russia-not-planning-to-close-embassies-in-europe-ria-995130) On Monday, Russia’s ambassador to Poland was doused in a red substance by people protesting against the war in Ukraine as he went to lay flowers at the Soviet Military Cemetery in Warsaw to mark the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two. Moscow sent a “strong protest” note afterwards.

Newsline: World diplomats, politicians condemn Taliban burqa mandate

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has joined world diplomats and politicians in condemning a new mandate from the Taliban requiring Afghan women to cover their faces in public. Thomas-Greenfield, speaking on CNN’s State of the Union, was asked by host Jake Tapper if the Taliban’s latest decree showed whether it was a problem that the U.S. withdrew its troops from Afghanistan last fall before a “competent government” was established. “It shows again what the Taliban are capable of,” Thomas-Greenfield said. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement on Twitter that he was “alarmed” by the Taliban’s announcement that women must cover their faces in public and leave home only in cases of necessity. (https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2022/05/09/world-diplomats-condemn-taliban-burqa-mandate/1651652108454/) The Taliban on Saturday ordered that all Afghan women must wear a full-body covering, including the face, a return to restrictions first implemented in the 1990s.