Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 17, 2022

Newsline: Iran’s foreign ministry says no new development in Tehran-Riyadh talks

Iran’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday there has been “no new development” since April in talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported, shortly after a lawmaker said top diplomats of the rival countries will meet soon. “There are a number of issues on the agenda such as how the talks will continue and at which level,” the ministry’s spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh told IRNA. (https://news.yahoo.com/iran-says-no-development-tehran-152030602.html) “No new developments have taken place since the last round of talks (in April) in Iraq.”

Newsline: US takes control of Afghan embassy, consulates in NY, CA

The United States has taken control of Afghanistan’s embassy in Washington and the country’s consulates in New York and Beverly Hills, California, the State Department said Tuesday. The State Department said that it had assumed “sole responsibility” for the security and maintenance of the diplomatic missions effective on Monday and would bar anyone from entering them without its permission until further notice. The move came after the department determined that the embassy and consulates had “formally ceased conducting diplomatic and consular activities in the United States” at noon on May 16. The U.S. does not recognize the new Taliban government in Afghanistan, which took power last year after the withdrawal of American and allied troops, and does not have formal diplomatic relations with the country. “Until further notice, the Department of State’s Office of Foreign Missions has assumed sole responsibility for ensuring the protection and preservation of the property of the referenced missions, including but not limited to all real and tangible property, furnishings, archives, and financial assets of the Afghan Embassy or its consular posts in the United States,” the department said in a notice to be published Wednesday in the Federal Register. (https://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/us-takes-control-of-afghan-embassy-consulates-in-ny-ca/) The missions were identified as the Afghan embassy in Washington, and consular posts in Little Neck, New York, and Beverly Hills, California.

Newsline: Japan ramps up diplomacy with European leaders

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has been actively engaging in summit diplomacy with European leaders following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Kishida is working to strengthen the relationship between Japan and Europe and boost cooperation to defend the rules-based international order against Russia and China, which are increasingly taking steps to change the status quo by force. At a dinner hosted by Kishida last Wednesday in Tokyo, visiting Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin commented that Japan is in a difficult situation surrounded by Russia, China and North Korea, according to sources. (https://www.stripes.com/theaters/asia_pacific/2022-05-16/kishida-ramps-up-diplomacy-with-european-leaders-6028327.html) Marin’s comment was interpreted as an expression of sympathy for the position of Japan, which faces the threat of China and North Korea in addition to Russia. Kishida expressed understanding regarding Finland’s plan to apply to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during the leaders’ summit on Wednesday. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Japan in late April, and on Wednesday, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen were in Tokyo for talks. It is rare for European leaders to visit Japan so many in such a short period. Kishida also paid visits to Britain and Italy during the Golden Week holiday period in early May.

Newsline: Russia to expel two Finnish diplomats in tit-for-tat move

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that it was expelling two diplomats from the Finnish embassy in Moscow in retaliation against Helsinki’s decision to expel two of its diplomats. (https://news.yahoo.com/russia-expel-two-finnish-diplomats-100001762.html) In a statement, it also said it protested against what it said was “Finland’s confrontational course towards Russia”, apparently referring to Finland’s bid to join NATO.

Newsline: Turkey eyes diplomatic balance for Ukrainian peace talks

Turkey must maintain a delicate diplomatic balance following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine so that it remains able to help facilitate an eventual negotiated end to the war, President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said in an interview. Ibrahim Kalin, who is also Erdogan’s chief foreign policy adviser, said that while Ankara has criticised Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion and actions on the battlefield it would do no good to take a more punitive stance against Russia. “We have opposed this war from the beginning” but also maintained contact with Moscow, Kalin said. “They need someone – a trusted partner, negotiator, facilitator, moderator – someone in some position to be able to speak to the Russian side as well as to the Ukrainian side,” he told Reuters. “We have been able to maintain this position since the beginning of the war and I think it is really in everybody’s shared interest that everybody maintains a balanced position.” (https://news.yahoo.com/turkey-must-keep-diplomatic-balance-070710642.html) NATO member Turkey, a Black Sea neighbour of the warring nations, has good ties with both and has opposed Western sanctions on Moscow. It has seen tens of thousands of Russians – and some oligarchs’ sanctioned yachts – arrive since war began. Yet it has also supplied Kyiv with armed drones and blocked some Russian naval passage to the Black Sea, and stands alone as having hosted talks between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers and separately between their teams.