Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for August, 2022

Newsline: U.S. senior diplomat to visit Jerusalem, Ramallah for talks with Israelis, Palestinians

Barbara Leaf, the State Department’s most senior diplomat for the Middle East, will arrive in Israel on Thursday for talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials in Jerusalem and Ramallah, Israeli and Palestinian officials told Axios. (https://www.axios.com/2022/08/31/us-state-leaf-visit-israel-palestinians-talks) Leaf’s visit comes as the U.S. tries to convince Palestinian leadership, which is frustrated with the diplomatic stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, not to pursue a bid at the UN Security Council for full UN membership. Hady Amr, the State Department’s point person on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, arrived in Jerusalem on Tuesday to prepare Leaf’s visit, Israeli and Palestinian officials said. Palestinian officials in recent days doubled down on their intention to pursue a vote at the Security Council, saying they will push for it even though they know the U.S. will veto it. According to Palestinian officials, President Mahmoud Abbas is planning to start the process immediately after his speech at the UN General Assembly, which starts on Sept. 20.

Newsline: UN rights chief leaving with China report still unreleased

Diplomats paid tribute to departing UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Tuesday, despite her failure to release a long-promised report on alleged abuses in China’s Xinjiang region. (https://news.yahoo.com/un-rights-chief-leaving-china-114429346.html) A long line of country representatives took the floor at a UN rights council to praise how Bachelet had handled the challenges of the past four years. But while the former Chilean president was greeted with praise, flowers and a standing ovation, the row over a long-promised report on the rights situation in Xinjiang remains unresolved. Bachelet told the council nearly a year ago that her office was finalising a report on the situation in the far-western Chinese region, where Beijing stands accused of detaining more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. She steps down from her post on Wednesday with her successor still to be appointed — and the report still unreleased. Rights groups have grown increasingly frustrated at the delay.

Newsline: Brazil prosecutors charge German diplomat for husband’s death

Brazilian state prosecutors pressed charges against a German diplomat accused of the murder of his Belgian husband and are investigating reports that he has left the country after a court released him from police custody. (https://news.yahoo.com/brazil-prosecutors-charge-german-diplomat-235837600.html) Uwe Herbert Hahn, who worked at the German consulate in Rio de Janeiro, was indicted by the city prosecutors’ office with aggravated murder, following the death of his husband, Walter Biot, earlier this month. On Friday, a state court released Hahn from a preemptive arrest he had been on since Aug. 7, claiming that prosecutors missed the initial deadline to present charges. According to Brazilian news portal G1, Hahn took a flight out of Brazil and arrived on Frankfurt, Germany, early on Monday. The prosecutors’ office said it was still investigating whether the consul left the country. The German consulate in Rio de Janeiro could not be reached for comment.

Newsline: Saudi Arabia urges Lebanon to extradite man who threatened embassy

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon Walid al-Bukhari said the kingdom is seeking the arrest and extradition from Lebanon of a Saudi man who threatened the kingdom’s embassy in Beirut last week. “We call upon the competent Lebanese authorities to undertake the necessary legal procedures regarding the terrorist threats,” Bukhari said following a meeting with Lebanon’s interior minister. (https://news.yahoo.com/saudi-arabia-seeks-extradition-lebanon-091958631.html) Lebanese and Saudi authorities say the person behind the recorded threats was a Saudi man named Ali Hashem. Reuters could not independently confirm the information and was not able to contact the man. Some Lebanese officials have tried to improve ties with Saudi Arabia, once a major donor, after years of tension over the growing influence in Lebanon of Hezbollah, which is classified by both Riyadh and the United States as a terrorist group.

Newsline: EU top diplomats split on visa bans for Russia

Germany and France have issued a joint warning against a ban on tourist visas for Russians, saying such a step, advocated by other European Union member states, would be counter-productive. The split on tourist visas will be at the heart of a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Prague on Tuesday and Wednesday, as they discuss what further steps they can take to sanction Russia for its six-month old invasion of Ukraine. “We caution against far-reaching restrictions on our visa policy, in order to prevent feeding the Russian narrative and trigger unintended rallying-around the flag effects and/or estranging future generations,” France and Germany said in the joint memo seen by Reuters. (https://news.yahoo.com/eu-foreign-policy-chief-eyes-063619840.html) The bloc’s two leading countries argue for close scrutiny of visa applications for security risks, but believe visas should still be issued. “We must not give up on supporting pro-democratic elements with Russian society,” they said. “Our visa policies should reflect that and continue to allow for people to people contacts in the EU with Russian nationals not linked to the Russian government. Others, in particular eastern and Nordic member states, have argued strongly for a ban.

Newsline: U.S. Embassy in Iraq not being evacuated

Reports of the U.S. Embassy being under threat are “false,” John Kirby, the coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council, said. “There’s no evacuation going on at the embassy and no indication that’s going to be required at this time,” Kirby told reporters on a call on Monday. He called reports of unrest throughout the country “disturbing” and expressed concern that “Iraqi institutions are not being allowed to function.” (https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/white-house-calls-violence-in-iraq-e2-80-98disturbing-e2-80-99-but-says-embassy-not-being-evacuated/ar-AA11eJLN) Media reports indicated that multiple people were killed and several were injured in clashes in the Green Zone in Baghdad after Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced he plans to withdraw from political life. CNN reported Monday that security forces fired tear gas and bullets as a crowd of protesters forced their way inside the Green Zone, a heavily fortified area in the Iraqi capital. The United Nations (U.N.) Assistance Mission in Iraq urged protesters to leave the Green Zone and vacate government buildings.

Newsline: Brazil court frees German diplomat arrested over husband’s death

A Brazilian court freed a German diplomat arrested earlier this month in connection with the death of his Belgian husband, letting him face the murder investigation in freedom. Uwe Herbert Hahn had been on pre-emptive arrest in Rio de Janeiro since August 7 following the death of his husband, Walter Biot. Prosecutors have yet to formally charge him. His release, confirmed by Rio de Janeiro’s state department of prisons, came after Judge Rosa Helena Guita ruled that prosecutors missed the initial deadline to present charges. In her decision, Guita cited a clear “excess of time limit for a criminal action to be filed, noting that “no charges had been filed so far, nine days after the 10-day legal deadline expired.” (https://www.scmp.com/news/world/americas/article/3190439/brazil-court-frees-german-diplomat-arrested-over-husbands-death) The Rio de Janeiro prosecutor’s office said in a statement to Reuters that it had not yet been summoned to file charges. “The deadline for offering the charges has not even started,” the statement said. At the time of Biot’s death, Hahn said he had fallen from their flat in the Ipanema neighbourhood after suffering a sudden illness. Police arrested Hahn on suspicion of murder after their forensics found bloodstains in the flat and the autopsy of Biot’s body showed multiple wounds, leading them to consider the case a “violent death.”

Newsline: Colombian Ambassador-designate Arrives in Venezuela

The Colombian ambassador-designate to Venezuela, Armando Benedetti, arrived in Caracas. It is said, although unconfirmed, that Benedetti will present his credentials and on Tuesday he will travel back to his country. (https://www.entornointeligente.com/colombian-ambassador-designate-arrives-in-venezuela/) The arrival in Caracas of the newly appointed ambassador by Colombian President Gustavo Petro opens a new chapter in the history of relations between the two neighboring states, interrupted in February 2019. With Petro’s assumption to power and the atmosphere of détente between Caracas and Bogota, President Nicolás Maduro appointed Felix Plasencia as his ambassador to Colombia on August 11.

Newsline: Marine Corps clarinetist evacuated two US embassies in one year

Marine Staff Sgt. Ryan San Juan just wanted to spend four years playing in a military band. Instead, he became a witness to history, evacuating two embassies in global hot spots in a single year ― and earning Marine Corps legend status in the process. San Juan, 31, helped oversee the emergency departure of U.S. embassy staff from Afghanistan as the Marine Security Guard detachment commander in August 2021 in Kabul. (https://news.yahoo.com/marine-corps-clarinetist-evacuated-2-104157045.html) A month later, he arrived at a new post as detachment commander at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine. Half a year later, he’d support the evacuation there. While the Kabul evacuation was hasty and unplanned, the Kyiv departure felt orderly and proactive.

Newsline: India lashes out at Chinese Ambassador’s views on Sri Lanka

In response to the remarks of Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said on Saturday that his views were a violation of basic diplomatic etiquette and maybe a personal trait or reflecting a larger national attitude. The Indian High Commission also said that Qi’s view of Sri Lanka’s northern neighbour may be coloured by how his own country behaves. The High Commission, which made a series of tweets, also referred to Qi’s remarks on the visit of a Chinese spy vessel to Hambantota port in Sri Lanka and said his imputing a geopolitical context to the visit of a purported scientific research vessel is a giveaway. “We have noted the remarks of the Chinese Ambassador. His violation of basic diplomatic etiquette may be a personal trait or reflecting a larger national attitude. His view of Sri Lanka’s northern neighbour may be coloured by how his own country behaves. India, we assure him,is very different. His imputing a geopolitical context to the visit of a purported scientific research vessel is a giveaway,” the Indian High Commission said. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/india-lashes-out-at-chinese-ambassador-s-views-on-india-sri-lanka-relations/ar-AA11b71g) The High Commission also referred to reports of China’s debt-trap diplomacy and said “opaqueness and debt-driven agendas are now a major challenge specially for smaller nations”. It said Sri Lanka, which is facing an unprecedented economic crisis, needs support, not unwanted pressure or unnecessary controversies to serve another country’s agenda.