Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for July 17, 2022

Newsline: Diplomatic breakthroughs elude US President on Middle East tour

US President Joe Biden sought to use his first Middle East tour in office to reassert Washington’s influence but emerged without a single diplomatic breakthrough, an outcome analysts said was no surprise. On issues ranging from energy prices to human rights and Israel’s role in the region, Biden could point only to small — if any — gains after four whirlwind days of meetings and speeches. (https://news.yahoo.com/breakthroughs-elude-biden-fraught-middle-083336239.html) Driving the point home, as Air Force One flew back to Washington Saturday evening, Biden’s Saudi hosts downplayed one of the trip’s few concrete announcements: their lifting of airspace restrictions on flights to and from Israel, which Biden himself had earlier hailed as “a big deal”. Yet as on other issues, immediate concessions from the Saudis on human rights were always unlikely, and some experts said that in itself doesn’t make the trip a failure.

Newsline: Chinese diplomats flock to Africa in response to Western diplomatic moves

The past month has been a busy time for Chinese diplomacy in Africa, with senior officials making dozens of trips to the continent to resolve disputes, strengthen relations and respond to a recent Western charm offensive. In a meeting with Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye, the Chinese government’s special representative on African affairs, Xu Jinghu, promised China would continue to strengthen bilateral relations with the East African nation in priority sectors such as agriculture, health and infrastructure. On her eight-nation tour, Xu also visits Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Namibia, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/chinese-diplomats-flock-africa-response-093000467.html) She is visiting the continent a few days after senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi visited Zimbabwe and Mozambique. And last month, Wu Peng, director general of the foreign ministry’s African affairs department, visited South Africa, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Togo. Also in June, China’s special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Xue Bing, was in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for the first Horn of Africa peace conference – which was sponsored by China.

Newsline: Head of British Embassy in Myanmar forced to leave

Pete Vowles, the head of the British Embassy in Myanmar, wrote on his Twitter account that his duties in Myanmar were suddenly suspended. He said he was saddened by the instructions of State Administration Council to force him to leave Myanmar. But Vowles added that he was glad “we didn’t cave to pressure to legitimise” the military takeover. In addition, even though he had to leave the country, the members of the team who remained in Myanmar would continue to stand up and do everything they could for the people of Myanmar who wanted nothing more than peace, freedom and justice, he tweeted. (https://www.thestar.com.my/aseanplus/aseanplus-news/2022/07/14/head-of-british-embassy-in-myanmar-forced-to-leave) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had not commented on the matter so far. Vowles had been head of the British Embassy in Myanmar since August 2021.

Newsline: UK ambassador says French border officials didn’t believe she was a diplomat

The UK’s ambassador to France said that French border-control agents did not believe that she was a diplomat and asked if her husband was the diplomat instead. Dame Menna Rawlings tweeted that the incident took place as she was traveling through Paris’ Gare du Nord station, at which trains to and from England stop, that morning. She did not say whether she was traveling to or from England at the time. She said she had a “classic” experience at the French border that started when an official said that he needed to stamp her passport. Rawlings said she responded: “Actually you don’t: I live here and I’m a diplomat.” She said that the official then responded: “You?? Or do you mean your husband?” (https://news.yahoo.com/uk-ambassador-says-french-border-134147986.html) Neither Rawlings, the UK embassy in France, nor the French National Police, which oversees the border police, immediately responded to Insider’s request for comment. Rawlings was appointed as the UK’s ambassador to France in August 2021, and is the first woman to hold the role. She previously served as the UK’s high commissioner to Australia, and as the director-general of economic and global issues at the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office.