Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 26, 2022

Newsline: China reiterates opposition to new UN sanctions before vote

China reiterated its opposition to new sanctions against North Korea ahead of a vote Thursday on a U.S.-drafted U.N. resolution that would impose tougher measures on the reclusive northeast Asian nation for its recent launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles that can be used to deliver nuclear weapons. China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun called instead for the United States to take “meaningful, practical actions” to resume its dialogue with the country and find a political solution to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, where the 1950-53 war between North Korea and South Korea stopped with an armistice, not a peace treaty. He would not say whether China would abstain or veto the resolution when the Security Council votes on Thursday afternoon. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/china-reiterates-opposition-to-new-un-sanctions-before-vote/2022/05/26/dadeb59e-dd0d-11ec-bc35-a91d0a94923b_story.html) With tensions on the peninsula, Zhang said, it’s important to stay calm, avoid any provocative actions and “really give hope” to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — the country’s official name — by lifting some sanctions instead of imposing new ones.

Newsline: Top diplomat says US is ready to strengthen diplomacy with China

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US is ready to strengthen diplomacy and increase communication with China “across a full range of issues” in a speech on the administration’s policy towards the country on Thursday. “This is a charged moment for the world. And at times like these, diplomacy is vital,” said Blinken who was speaking at George Washington University. “We stand ready to increase our direct communication with Beijing across a full range of issues.” (https://keyt.com/news/2022/05/26/blinken-says-us-is-ready-to-strengthen-diplomacy-with-china-in-charged-moment-for-the-world/) But Blinken also warned, “we can’t rely on Beijing to change its trajectory. So we will shape the strategic environment around Beijing to advance our vision for an open and inclusive international system.” He made clear the Biden administration is not seeking conflict with China. Blinken added that the Biden administration has worked to develop and implement a “comprehensive strategy” to aimed at working on national strengths and working with partners and allies to “realize the future that we seek.” That future does not require blocking China, he explained. “We are not looking for conflict or a new Cold War. To the contrary, we’re determined to avoid both,” Blinken said as he unveiled a much-anticipated speech laying out the Biden administration’s China policy.

Newsline: Iran summons Greek diplomat over seizing of ship’s cargo

Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the chief of Greece’s diplomatic mission for allegedly seizing cargo from a vessel flying the Iranian flag in Greek waters, state media reported Wednesday. The IRNA news agency reported that an Iran-flagged ship had to stop in Greek waters due to technical problems and was being held by the Greek government off of Greece’s coast. The news agency claimed the vessel’s cargo was confiscated with a court order under pressure from the United States. The report didn’t say what the cargo was. Iran’s Foreign Ministry called the measure “international piracy.” (https://news.yahoo.com/iran-summons-greek-diplomat-over-173717010.html) There was no immediate comment from Greek officials. The semi-official Mehr news agency reported that Iran’s ports and maritime organization said the vessel was a tanker operating under the Iranian flag and that it had faced bad weather conditions and experienced some technical problems. That led the vessel’s crew to call for assistance, according to the report.

Newsline: China’s top diplomat starts Pacific tour in the Solomons

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi and a 20-strong delegation arrived in the Solomon Islands Thursday at the start of an eight-nation tour that comes amid growing concerns about Beijing’s military and financial ambitions in the South Pacific region. Australia was scrambling to counter the move by sending its own Foreign Minister Penny Wong to Fiji to shore up support in the Pacific. Wong has been on the job just five days following an Australian election and had just arrived back Wednesday night from a meeting in Tokyo. “We need to respond to this because this is China seeking to increase its influence in the region of the world where Australia has been the security partner of choice since the Second World War,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. (https://www.mrt.com/news/article/China-s-foreign-minister-starts-Pacific-tour-in-17199786.php) Meanwhile, the Media Association of Solomon Islands was calling on its members to boycott a news conference being held in the capital, Honiara, by Wang and his counterpart from the Solomon Islands, Jeremiah Manele.

Newsline: Iran state media says diplomat jailed in Belgium with insufficient evidence

Iranian state media says Belgium sentenced an Iranian diplomat to a 20-year prison sentence with insufficient evidence, in what they have branded a politicised case. Asadollah Assadi, the third secretary of Iran’s embassy in Austria, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in February 2021 by a court in Antwerp, Belgium. Assadi, 50, was accused by the Belgian authorities of organising – on behalf of Iranian intelligence – three accomplices to plant a bomb at a gathering of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (also known as the Mujahedin-e Khalq or MEK), a Europe-based opposition group, in Villepinte near Paris in June 2018. Assadi was found guilty by a Belgian court and sentenced to 20 years. The sentence was confirmed in May 2021 after Assadi refused to file an appeal, as he has contested the legitimacy of the Belgian justice system. State-run IRNA news agency last week said Asadollah Assadi’s trial and sentencing was “a completely preplanned scenario” built on shaky grounds. The semi-official Tasnim news agency published a similar report in which it said that the MEK had framed Assadi. “Based on reports from Assadi’s attorney, the role of this terrorist organisation [MEK] in forging a case against the Iranian diplomat is evident,” Tasnim said. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/26/iran-says-diplomat-imprisoned-with-insufficient-evidence) Both outlets published images of purported evidence and sought to portray how the MEK was involved. Iran has designated the organisation a “terrorist” group, accusing it of carrying out bombing attacks and assassinations and invading Iranian soil with military help from Saddam Hussein during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s.