Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for June 8, 2022

Newsline: U.S. sending senior diplomat to reassure Palestinians

Barbara Leaf, the State Department’s most senior diplomat for the Middle East, will arrive in Israel this weekend for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah, three Israeli and Palestinian officials told Axios. A central goal of the visit is to reassure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the Biden administration is committed to the Palestinians and a two-state solution, a source briefed on the trip said. Israeli officials said Leaf is expected to arrive in Israel on Saturday. It will be her first visit to the region in her new role as Assistant Secretary of State for Near East affairs. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian affairs Hady Amr arrived in Israel Wednesday to prepare for Leaf’s visit. During her visit, Leaf will also speak to Palestinian and Israeli leadership about ways to reduce tensions following recent events in Jerusalem, Axios has learned. (https://www.axios.com/2022/06/08/palestinian-authority-biden-administration-israel-visit) A State Department spokesperson said, “We have nothing to announce.”

Newsline: US says North Korea ignores multiple diplomatic overtures

North Korea, believed poised to test a new nuclear weapon, has ignored multiple US overtures for discussions as well as offers to help in its Covid-19 outbreak, a US diplomat said Tuesday. Speaking after Pyongyang test-launched eight ballistic missiles in a single day Sunday, Sung Kim, the US Special Representative to North Korea, said the country has not responded to months of public and private communications seeking to engage over tensions. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have repeatedly said publicly that Washington seeks diplomatic talks with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea “without preconditions,” Kim said. “We have also reached out to pass this message through private channels as well. This includes high-level personal messages from senior US officials to senior DPRK officials,” he told reporters in a briefing. “Over the past year, we have sent such messages in multiple ways, through third parties, directly in writing,” he added, noting that included North Korea neighbor China. Such messages included specific proposals on humanitarian cooperation and assistance with the recent Covid-19 outbreak in North Korea, said Kim. “However, to date, the DPRK has not responded and continues to show no indication that is interested in engaging,” he said. (https://news.yahoo.com/us-says-nkorea-ignores-multiple-163315875.html) US officials have showing growing concerns about Pyongyang’s increased nuclear-related activities.

Newsline: Top German diplomat says Taliban to cause Afghanistan’s downfall

Germany’s top diplomat expressed concerns during a visit to Pakistan that neighboring Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers are leading that country into a complete “downfall” and bringing about incredible suffering and hunger. (https://www.newstimes.com/news/article/Top-German-diplomat-Taliban-to-cause-17224437.php) Annalena Baerbock spoke at a press conference with her Pakistani counterpart, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, after discussing a range of issues with officials in Islamabad. Since seizing power in mid-August last year, the Taliban have imposed harsh edicts in Afghanistan, harking back to their repressive rule during the late 1990s. They have restricted freedoms and rights of women, who are now barred from going to school beyond the sixth grade, and minorities. The country has plunged into an unprecedented crisis, hurtling toward an economic meltdown as famine and hunger loom. In Islamabad, Baerbock urged that any economic aid to Afghanistan’s Taliban should be coupled with improvements in the human rights situation.

Newsline: Mexico top diplomat accuses U.S. of inconsistency in Americas Summit invitations

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on Tuesday accused the United States of double standards by refusing to invite Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to the U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas, while engaging with non-democratic governments in Southeast Asia. “The so-called democratic clause is not applied equally in all cases, but only in some, when it is convenient,” Ebrard wrote in a column published in Mexican newspaper Excelsior, pointing to Washington’s relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and forming the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework in May. Ebrard called the U.S. decision “inconsistent, if not contradictory.” (https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-foreign-minister-accuses-us-inconsistency-americas-summit-invitations-2022-06-07/) Among ASEAN’s members are Myanmar, ruled by a military junta, and one-party Communist-ruled Vietnam. The United States chose not to invite the leftist leaders of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Communist-ruled Cuba to this week’s Americas gathering in Los Angeles, citing concerns of a lack of democracy in their countries, a senior U.S. official said.