Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for July 12, 2022

Newsline: Turkey To Host Russian, Ukrainian And UN diplomats For Black Sea Grain Talks

Russian and Ukrainian delegations were due to meet with UN diplomats in Istanbul on Wednesday in a bid to break a months-long impasse over stalled grain deliveries across the Black Sea. (https://www.ibtimes.com/russia-ukraine-hold-black-sea-grain-talks-turkey-3570891) The four-way meeting with Turkish officials comes as food prices soar around the world due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine is one of the world’s biggest exporters of wheat and other grain. But its shipments have been blocked by Russian warships and mines that Kyiv has laid across the Black Sea. NATO member Turkey — on good terms with both Russia and Ukraine — has spearheaded efforts to resume the grain deliveries. Turkish officials say they have 20 merchant ships waiting in the Black Sea that could be loaded quickly with Ukrainian grain. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tried to use his good relations with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Kyiv’s Western-backed leaders to thrust Ankara into the centre of negotiations about Ukraine. Erdogan is due to meet Putin for the first time since Russia’s invasion when the two leaders are hosted by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran next Tuesday.

Newsline: U.S. to open new embassies in Pacific

The United States said Tuesday it would expand its diplomatic presence in the Pacific, as it seeks to counter the growing influence of China in a region of intensifying great-power rivalry. The new efforts, which will be announced by Vice President Harris during a virtual address to leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Fiji, will include two additional U.S. embassies and a tripling of some aid, among other measures. The diplomatic push comes amid concerns that China has supplanted the United States as the friend of choice for some Pacific island nations. China struck a security agreement with the Solomon Islands in April despite American objections. And the Chinese foreign minister recently signed several other bilateral agreements during an eight-country tour of the region. The new diplomatic initiatives come as the United States tries to restore some of its influence in the region. “We are significantly stepping up our game in the Pacific islands,” said a senior administration official who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity ahead of the vice president’s PIF appearance. The official said the United States is not asking Pacific island nations to choose between it and China. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/07/12/kamala-harris-pacific-islands-us-china/) The Biden administration has sought to shift American focus from the Middle East to Asia. It has withdrawn U.S. troops from Afghanistan, ramped up the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with Japan, Australia and India, and launched the AUKUS pact with Britain and Australia, which, like the Quad, is seen as a countermeasure to China’s growing military assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.

Newsline: China’s embassy complains to Japan about Taiwan vice president at Abe funeral

China’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday its embassy in Japan had lodged “stern representations” with the government there about Taiwan Vice President William Lai attending the funeral of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe. Lai visited Japan in what a Japanese official described as a private visit to pay his respects as a friend of Abe’s, a move that was always likely to upset Beijing which considers democratically ruled Taiwan its own territory with no right to the trappings of a state. Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, speaking at a regular news briefing in Beijing, said Taiwan was a part of China and “does not have a so-called vice-president”. “After the assassination of former Japanese prime minister Abe, the Taiwan authorities used the opportunity to engage in political manipulation,” Wang said. “It’s impossible this kind of scheming will succeed.” (https://news.yahoo.com/china-complains-japan-taiwan-vice-082104433.html) Taiwan’s official Central News Agency said Lai was the most senior official to visit Japan since Tokyo broke official ties with Taipei in 1972 and forged relations with Beijing. Abe, gunned down at a campaign rally last week, was a popular figure in Taiwan for his support for the island, and on Monday President Tsai Ing-wen visited the de facto Japanese embassy in Taipei to pay her respects.