Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for July 19, 2022

Newsline: Russia’s embassy says ship with military cargo in ‘detention’ in India

The Russian embassy in India said on Tuesday that it was aware of a Russian cargo ship in detention at the Indian port of Cochin. “Russian Embassy in India is aware of the Russian cargo ship detention in the Indian port of Cochin, on board of which a military cargo for the Indian Armed Forces was delivered,” Reuters partner ANI quoted the embassy as saying. (https://news.yahoo.com/russian-ship-military-cargo-detention-130029448.html) “The Embassy has sent to the Ministry of External Affairs of India an official request for explanation of the circumstances of the incident. We have also asked the Ministry to ensure unconditional observance of the rights of the Russian ship-owners and crew,” ANI quoted the embassy as saying.

Newsline: Top EU diplomat delaying key Israel meeting

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell held up a key forum between Israel and the EU because of the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh in May, a senior European official told The Times of Israel. The Association Council is a meeting that is meant to occur annually between Israel and the EU to cover matters of mutual concern. The last time the two sides met was in 2012, and, as foreign minister, Yair Lapid made it a goal to reconvene the forum. The 27 EU foreign ministers managed to agree on a draft of a joint statement for an Association Council with Israel, a significant hurdle to overcome before convening the forum. “We got it,” said the official. “That was a miracle.” The final step was to get the text on the agenda of the European Council, the body that sets the political direction of the European Union. “That depends on Josep Borrell,” recounted the official. (https://www.timesofisrael.com/top-eu-diplomat-delaying-key-israel-meeting-over-abu-akleh-killing-official/) Borrell had been reluctant to advance an Association Council with Israel, but came around because of pressure from EU member states. Borrell’s spokesperson’s office did not provide a response when asked about the matter. Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Newsline: Unhappiness in Tonga at US embassy move

US vice president Kamala Harris made the announcement among other ‘re-engagement’ promises for the Pacific region, in an address via video link with leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum, during the forum’s annual leaders meeting. RNZ Pacific correspondent in Tonga Kalafi Moala said people there now want to know if there will be consular services provided, so they don’t have to travel to Suva to get visas. (https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/471006/unhappiness-in-tonga-at-us-embassy-move) China recently completed building a large embassy in Nuku’alofa, and Moala said people were asking – via social media and talkback radio – if that was why Washington had chosen Tonga for the new mission. The US also announced it would build an embassy in Kiribati. Earlier this week Kiribati opposition leader Tessie Lambourne said Kiribati’s decision to withdraw from the Pacific Islands Forum on the eve of its annual summit was driven by pressure from China. But the Chinese foreign ministry denied Beijing had any part in Kiribati’s withdrawal from the forum.

Newsline: Russian Ambassador Says North Korean Workers Could Be Sent to Rebuild Ukrainian Territory Controlled by Moscow

North Korean builders could be shipped to parts of eastern Ukraine under Russian control to restore infrastructure destroyed in the conflict, the Russian ambassador in Pyongyang said. Alexander Matsegora floated the idea of sending the workers to the self-proclaimed people’s republics in Donetsk and Luhansk during an interview with a Russian newspaper, according to South Korea’s NK News outlet. (https://www.thedailybeast.com/north-korean-workers-could-be-sent-to-rebuild-ukrainian-territory-controlled-by-russia-ambassador-says) Matsegora reportedly said there were “a lot of opportunities” for cooperation between Pyongyang and the breakaway republics despite UN sanctions on North Korea. He added that “highly qualified and hard-working Korean builders, who are capable of working in the most difficult conditions, could help us restore our social, infrastructure and industrial facilities.” News of the proposal comes after Ukraine cut diplomatic ties with Kim Jong Un’s regime after it formally recognized the two territories in eastern Ukraine as independent.

Newsline: Afghan refugees protest delayed visas at US embassy in Madagascar

A group of refugees from Afghanistan has gathered in front of the United States embassy in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, calling for their cases to be expedited after years of waiting. At least a dozen Afghans including both adults and children gathered outside the embassy premises, saying they had applied for the US Refugee Admissions Program in 2019, but were yet to receive any updates until two months ago, when they had interviews with a US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agent. Since then, their wait for answers has continued, they said. “They said after one month they give us the result, after now they haven’t given the result,” claimed one refugee, Ahmadullah, who like the others gathered asked to only use his first name for fear of retribution against his family in Afghanistan. “We have no word,” he told Al Jazeera. “We have nothing.” (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/7/18/afghan-refugees-protest-at-us-embassy-in-madagascar) Bahar, a spokesman for the group, told Al Jazeera by video chat from the protest “They make us a hostage since 2019 … Now we are sitting here in this rain. We will not leave until we get this answer.” Those gathered said they had worked in support of either NATO forces or US and foreign companies and non-profits in Afghanistan, and as a result, faced Taliban retribution if they returned to their home country.