Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 20, 2022

Newsline: U.S. Embassy welcomes plan to name Moscow square ‘Defenders of Donbas’

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said on Friday that it was surprised but not offended by a proposal to name a nearby intersection “Defenders of Donbas Square”, suggesting disingenuously that it was to honour Ukrainian soldiers fighting Russian aggression. “Surprised but not offended by the Russian government’s proposal to rename a part of downtown Moscow near the U.S. Embassy ‘Defenders of Donbas Square’, presumably in honour of Ukrainian soldiers bravely defending their homeland from Kremlin aggression,” the embassy said. “The country should know its heroes.” (https://wsau.com/2022/05/20/u-s-embassy-welcomes-plan-to-name-moscow-square-defenders-of-donbas/) The Moscow city assembly said on Wednesday that its members were considering naming the intersection after soldiers fighting against alleged “Nazism” in the largely Russian-speaking Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

Newsline: France’s London ambassador appointed as foreign minister

President Emmanuel Macron on Friday appointed France’s current ambassador to Britain, career diplomat Catherine Colonna, as the country’s new foreign minister, the Elysee said as part of a government overhaul following his re-election in April. Outgoing Industry Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher will take over a newly created ministerial portfolio for “energy transition”, the Elysee said. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/macron-appoints-london-ambassador-foreign-143108322.html) They will report to Elisabeth Borne, 61, a soft-spoken, leaft-leaning career bureaucrat who Macron on Monday picked as his new prime minister, only the second woman to get the job.

Newsline: Russian top diplomat tries to keep the Kremlin’s few allies onside

Before the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was one of the world’s most well-traveled diplomats — jetting off to countries near and far to discuss strategic concerns, sign cooperation deals with allies and scold what he has called the “golden billion” Western consumers who gobble up the world’s resources at everyone else’s expense. But Lavrov’s world has shrunk in the past three months. He has been to China, for a meeting of Afghanistan’s neighboring states, and to India, a major purchaser of Russian oil and weaponry. He spent a day in meetings at the Turkish resort of Antalya in early March. In his most extensive trip since the invasion, he traveled last week to Algeria, a longtime Russian partner; to Oman, which prides itself as a neutral go-between in international disputes; and to Tajikistan for a meeting of Central Asian allies. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/05/19/lavrov-russia-allies-ukraine/) Official visitors to Lavrov in Moscow have been similarly few and far between. Pakistan’s foreign minister happened to be in the Russian capital the day the invasion began. The next day, Lavrov received “ministers” from the two eastern Ukrainian regions Russia has unilaterally recognized as independent countries. Counterparts from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates came in March to talk about Iran and oil; so did Iran’s foreign minister. He may have a reduced audience these days, limited to those who agree with Putin on Ukraine or feel they can’t afford not to, but Lavrov does not seem to have lost his style. The combativeness and ability to turn an insulting phrase remains, along with occasionally jarring interpretations of history.

Newsline: Pakistan’s Youngest Top Diplomat Says He’s Ready to Redefine U.S. Relations

Pakistan’s new top diplomat has expressed his government’s will to redefine and expand the nation’s relationship with the United States after an abrupt change of power last month, in which the previous prime minister accused Washington of orchestrating his ousting. Speaking at a press conference Thursday at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari compared former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s accusations against the U.S. to former President Donald Trump’s election fraud claims. But now, Zardari asserted, the priority was to move past the latest row to mend ties marred by far more deep-rooted trends, including growing U.S. engagement with Pakistan’s top rival, India. In response to Newsweek’s question, Zardari said that “Pakistan is not insecure about our relationship with the United States, and we believe that the world is big enough for Pakistan and India to exist.” “I believe that there is a lot of potential for Pakistan-U.S. relations.” he added. “And it is to the benefit of the people of Pakistan and the people of America that both our governments engage, and we look to provide opportunities to both our people to benefit from our relationship.” (https://www.newsweek.com/pakistans-youngest-top-diplomat-says-hes-ready-redefine-us-relations-1708347) At 33, Zardari is Pakistan’s youngest foreign minister, but he is no stranger to politics. He is the son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated by Islamist militants in 2007, leaving Zardari to co-chair the progressive Pakistan People’s Party at the age of 19 alongside his father, Asif Ali Zardari.