Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 21, 2022

Newsline: U.S., other APEC delegates walk out on Russian speaker

Delegates from the United States and four other nations staged a walkout Saturday when a representative from Russia began his opening remarks at a meeting of trade ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group in the Thai capital, officials said. A Japanese official said Japan’s Trade Minister Koichi Hagiuda and his counterparts from the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Canada walked out of the meeting in Bangkok to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. A statement from the office of New Zealand Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor said he walked out “in protest at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has slowed the region’s economic recovery from COVID and made it harder for people in the region to get food on their tables. He walked out in good company.” A U.S. official in Bangkok confirmed the walkout but did not provide further details. He asked not to be identified. There is diplomatic sensitivity over speaking about the incident because the proceedings were held in closed session. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is representing Washington at the meeting. (https://news.yahoo.com/u-other-apec-delegates-walk-094941680.html) Thailand is this year’s host nation for meetings of APEC, which comprises 21 economies. The two-day trade ministers meeting ends Sunday.

Newsline: Senior U.S. Diplomat Warns Britain to Temper Its Spat With E.U. Over Northern Ireland

A senior U.S. diplomat urged London and Brussels to discreetly resolve their disputes, citing the need to unify the West behind Ukraine amid Russia’s onslaught. The Biden administration is warning Britain not to precipitate a clash with the European Union over trade in Northern Ireland, saying it could weaken the West’s solidarity. A senior State Department diplomat, Derek Chollet, delivered the message in meetings at Downing Street on Friday, days after the British government served notice that it might unilaterally scrap some of the provisions in an agreement with Brussels that regulates trade with Northern Ireland. “The last thing we want right now is a big U.K.-E.U. spat,” Mr. Chollet, the State Department’s counselor, said in an interview. “This is a moment where we should be sending a message of unity overall.” Mr. Chollet urged London and Brussels to try to resolve their disputes over Northern Ireland “behind closed doors.” The United States, he said, believed there was scope for compromise on the trade arrangements. “Let’s try to lower the temperature,” he said. “Let’s try to move it into a negotiation.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/20/world/europe/washington-eu-britain-northern-ireland.html) His warning came as the European Union threatened to respond with “all measures at its disposal” if Britain passed legislation discarding the agreement that regulates post-Brexit trade, known as the Northern Ireland protocol. That raised the specter of a trade war erupting across the English Channel at the very moment that the West is uniting to help Ukraine wage a land war farther east.

Newsline: Top Cuban diplomat lashes out at the U.S.

A top Cuban diplomat told Reuters the United States was making a “desperate effort” to impose its will on the Western Hemisphere by determining which countries should be invited. Cuban Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio, in a written statement, said such a decision was a “reflection of American contempt for our region.” (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-05-20/cuba-hits-back-at-u-s-as-tensions-rise-over-summit-of-americas) It was a rebuke to comments on Thursday from Kerri Hannan, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, accusing Cuba of using the summit controversy to distract from allegations of human rights abuses at home.

Newsline: Turkey holds diplomatic talks amid Finland, Sweden NATO blockade

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday told reporters he is engaging in “telephone diplomacy” with foreign leaders as nations look to circumvent Turkey’s blockade on Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership bid. Erdogan repeatedly said this week that he would not allow the two European nations to join the military alliance over anger at their ties to individuals Turkey has deemed “terrorists.” (https://news.yahoo.com/turkey-holds-diplomatic-talks-amid-143234848.html) Turkish media outlets reported that Erdogan once again doubled down on his blockade Friday after speaking with Netherland’s Prime Minister Mark Rutte. But despite his pronouncement this week that Sweden and Finland “shouldn’t bother” attempting to persuade him otherwise, he is reportedly set to hold calls Saturday with British and Finnish leaders. NATO military leaders have championed the move to include the two nations in the security alliance and said it would help shore up defenses against Russia by further identifying “vulnerabilities” on the European continent.