Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for July 31, 2022

Newsline: Iran says it responded to top EU diplomat’s proposal on 2015 nuclear deal

Iran has responded to top European Union diplomat Josep Borrell’s proposal aimed at salvaging Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, and seeks a swift conclusion to negotiations, the top Iranian nuclear negotiator said on Sunday. “We shared our proposed ideas, both on substance & form, to pave the way for a swift conclusion of Vienna negotiations,” Ali Bagheri Kani tweeted, without giving any more details on Iran’s position. “As Iran, we stand ready to conclude the negotiations in a short order, should the other side be ready to do the same.” (https://news.yahoo.com/iran-says-responded-eu-proposal-150538848.html) On Tuesday, Borrell said he had proposed a new draft text to revive the accord under which Iran curbed its nuclear programme in return for relief from economic sanctions. Then-U.S. President Donald Trump reneged on the deal in 2018 and reimposed U.S. sanctions, prompting Iran to violate the deal’s nuclear limits. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action deal aimed to make it harder for Iran to amass the fissile material for a nuclear weapon, an ambition Iran has long denied, saying its atomic programme was for peaceful purposes.

Newsline: US Senate bill urges 3 new embassies in Pacific island nations

A bipartisan group of senators will introduce legislation to establish three new embassies in the Pacific Islands region to strengthen America’s relationships there and counter China’s growing influence. The “Pacific Islands Embassy Act,” co-led by Sens. JON OSSOFF (D-Ga.) and TODD YOUNG (R-Ind.), would establish new U.S. missions in Vanuatu, Kiribati and Tonga. As of today, America has a Fiji-based ambassador who concurrently serves as the representative to Kiribati, Tonga, Tuvalu and Nauru, while the ambassador to Papua New Guinea is also accredited to Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. The goal of the bill is to have more U.S. diplomats directly engage more Pacific Islands’ governments — closing the gap between Beijing’s presence and America’s. “Strong U.S. diplomacy in the Pacific is essential. We must immediately establish a robust physical diplomatic presence in these strategic island nations,” Ossoff said in a statement. “Frankly, it is malpractice that the United States didn’t take this step a decade and a half ago. Time is of the essence.” (https://www.politico.com/newsletters/national-security-daily/2022/07/29/senate-bill-urges-3-new-embassies-in-pacific-island-nations-00048693) The measure requires the secretary of State to inaugurate the missions no later than two years after the bill is signed into law. The top diplomat must also by that time recommend to the president who should serve as ambassadors in those embassies. The act authorizes $40.2 million in FY 2023 to construct the embassies — the same amount Ossoff asked appropriators to green light back in May — as well as $3 million in FY 2024 to maintain the buildings. The future of the bill is unclear, but it underscores the growing concern in Congress about America’s faltering presence in the Pacific islands.

Newsline: US envoy urges progress on Ethiopia peace talks

The new US envoy for the Horn of Africa called Saturday for progress in holding Ethiopian peace talks and for unrestricted aid deliveries to stricken areas of the country. Mike Hammer, who arrived in Addis Ababa on Friday, held talks with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen, the US embassy said. They discussed the “need for continued progress on ensuring unfettered humanitarian assistance delivery, human rights accountability & political talks to end the conflict & achieve a lasting peace”, the embassy said on Twitter. (https://www.msn.com/en-sg/news/world/us-envoy-urges-progress-on-ethiopia-peace-talks-aid/ar-AA1086qh) Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government and the rival Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have both raised the prospect of peace talks to end the brutal conflict that erupted in November 2020. But major obstacles have emerged, not least over who should mediate any negotiations.