Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for August 1, 2022

Newsline: British diplomats robbed at knife point in Sudan

Two Brit diplomats were robbed at knife point in a terrifying ordeal. The officials – a man and a woman – were confronted in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, and had a knife pointed in their faces. Local media reports initially said the pair had been held at gunpoint by a gang and an embassy car stolen in the incident. According to reports the male and female diplomat were made to kneel on the ground while a knife was held to their face. (https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/19375959/brit-diplomats-robbed-knife/) They had bags containing mobile phones and cameras stolen, it was reported. But the Foreign Office said it was a just one attacker who carried out the robbery and no guns were used.

Newsline: A Netflix show stirs buzz among U.S. diplomats

The first clue that an upcoming Netflix show called “The Diplomat” is fiction is that the main character — played by Keri Russell of “The Americans” fame — is a career Foreign Service officer appointed the U.S. ambassador to Britain. That almost never happens. In the real world, the perch atop one of America’s most vital embassies — one housing so many U.S. agencies that it’s practically a mini-U.S. government abroad — usually goes to a rich person who helped fund the president’s campaign and can throw a big party. And that person is nearly always a man. Still, despite its eyebrow-raising elements, the show, which is in production, is stirring buzz among America’s thousands of career diplomats. Some have already offered expertise to the show’s creators. “We’ll take what we can get,” said Eric Rubin, president of the American Foreign Service Association, the diplomats’ union. “The truth is most Americans have no idea what diplomats do. Anything that helps people understand what it is that diplomats do and what our Foreign Service does for our country is positive.” (https://news.yahoo.com/netflix-show-starring-keri-russell-110000576.html) Some current and former diplomats even say it’s a good thing if the series isn’t too realistic. After all, as one journalist noted, a realistic take would require Russell’s character to spend several episodes just waiting for Senate confirmation. “A show that was actually really accurate about life in an embassy would probably be pretty boring,” said Lewis Lukens, a former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in London.

Newsline: Ambassador to Tokyo says U.S. and Japan pursue commercial diplomacy to counter China

Chips, batteries and energy are key collaboration areas between the United States and Japan as the allies seek to secure supply chains and counter China, Washington’s envoy to Tokyo said. Former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel has focused on “commercial diplomacy” since arriving as U.S. ambassador this year, pushing for business tie-ups in areas that have broader significance for economic security. One U.S. company is now looking at a “major potential investment” related to chips in Japan, in what would mark the latest collaboration between the countries on semiconductors, Emanuel told Reuters in an interview. He declined to elaborate or give a timeline. “Commercial diplomacy is a big piece of an overarching economic collaboration and coordination between the United States and Japan,” Emanuel said on Monday. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/u-japan-pursue-commercial-diplomacy-091444553.html) The two countries agreed on Friday to establish a new joint research centre for next-generation semiconductors.

Newsline: ASEAN foreign ministers to push for tougher action on Myanmar

Malaysia is set to lead a push for tougher action on Myanmar when a regional bloc of foreign ministers meet this week, as anger mounts at the junta for stonewalling crisis resolution efforts. The 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — which has spearheaded so far fruitless diplomatic efforts to restore peace — last week condemned the junta’s execution of four prisoners. Ministers meeting in Phnom Penh from Wednesday are expected to lament the lack of progress on ASEAN’s “five-point consensus” plan, agreed to in April last year, which called for an immediate end to violence and dialogue between the junta and coup opponents. As well as voicing “deep concern” about recent developments and calling for restraint, the ministers will also demand “concrete actions to effectively and fully implement the Five-Point Consensus”, according to a draft communique obtained by AFP. After more than a year of no progress on the plan, Malaysia will present a framework for its implementation, even as critics deride the ASEAN as a toothless talking shop. “The key element of the framework is there must be an end-game. You have to have an end-game. What is the end-game of the five-point consensus?” Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah told AFP. (https://news.yahoo.com/asean-foreign-ministers-push-tougher-072728293.html) Within the bloc, frustrations are growing after the Myanmar junta went ahead with its first executions in decades despite personal pleas from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Myanmar has been in chaos since a putsch in February last year and the death toll from the military’s brutal crackdown on dissent has passed 2,100, according to a local monitoring group.