Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for June 25, 2022

Newsline: India reopens Embassy in Kabul

In a major step towards re-establishing its presence in Afghanistan, India sent a “technical team” of officials to be based in Kabul, reopening its Embassy. India also sent its first consignment of earthquake relief assistance to Afghanistan, where more than 1,000 Afghans have been killed in an earthquake outside the city of Khost. (https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-reopens-embassy-in-kabul/article65558557.ece) The move to reopen the embassy, that comes more than ten months after the government shut down the Indian embassy, and pulled out all Indian personnel after the Ghani government fell, marks a reversal of the government’s policy on engaging the Taliban, and comes a few weeks after a team headed by senior MEA official J.P. Singh travelled to Kabul to meet with the Taliban-appointed acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mottaqi and acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, and received specific assurances on security for the deployment. The Indian embassy will become the 15th mission to be open in Kabul with staff deployed there under the Taliban regime, along with Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, European Union and four Central Asian states. The U.S. has delegated its diplomatic functions to the Qatari embassy there.

Newsline: Some US diplomats to receive six-figure payouts after suffering ‘Havana syndrome’

Some US diplomats and intelligence officers will receive six-figure payouts after suffering from Havana syndrome, the mysterious health issues that include headaches, vision issues, dizziness, and brain fog. The payments will be between $100,000 to $200,000 to each recipient, according to The Washington Post. (https://news.yahoo.com/us-diplomats-intelligence-officers-receive-201955482.html) The financial compensation scheme comes after an effort lasting years by members of Congress. The legislature passed a law last autumn mandating that the State Department and the CIA compensate both current and former officials who are victims of what the US government refers to as Anomalous Health Incidents (AHI). The US remains unsure what is behind the syndrome despite the issue having been investigated for six years. The issues were first reported by US diplomats and intelligence officers working in the Cuban capital but they have since been reported on all continents except for Antarctica. The payments will be provided to those who have been found to have experienced major setbacks because of the syndrome, including job loss and their career being thrown off course. Officials told The Post that the payment scheme hasn’t been finalized and could be changed when the State Department conducts its final review.

Newsline: Top diplomats urge action as global food crisis deepens

Top diplomats urged swift global action on Friday in the face of a mounting food crisis, as the war in Ukraine worsens conditions that have pushed millions of people into hunger. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock hosted officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio in the German capital for a summit aimed at finding ways to blunt the impacts of the situation, which the United Nations says has now made tens of millions people acutely food insecure. “Russia is waging a cynical grain war, using it as a tool to make food prices [skyrocket] and destabilize entire countries,” Baerbock said in remarks alongside Blinken before opening the summit. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2022/06/24/food-security-ukraine/) Blinken, speaking to reporters after the meeting, cautioned that the suffering due to the war and the food crisis was likely to persist for some time but said the stakes of ensuring that Russia could not absorb its neighbor were high. Officials have described a slow-building confluence of climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, and a spate of global conflicts including, now, the war in Ukraine — a major grain exporter whose crops are a key source of sustenance for countries including Egypt and Lebanon.