Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for August 5, 2022

Newsline: American top diplomat’s encounter with Russia and China seen as awkward

An awkward moment at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit ensued when Antony Blinken entered the room where the foreign ministers of China and Russia were seated, the three encountering each other as tensions between the countries remain at an all-time high. The US secretary of state entered the meeting room at the East Asia Summit of the ongoing ASEAN meetings in Phnom Penh on Friday when Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov were already seated. When Mr Wang entered before the US secretary, he patted the Russian minister on the shoulder and gave him a quick wave before taking his own seat, the Associated Press reported. Mr Lavrov waved back in response. But when Mr Blinken entered the room, as last among the three officials, there was no eye contact among them. He took his own seat about half-a-dozen chairs away. (https://news.yahoo.com/awkward-moment-us-blinken-enters-090930420.html) While Mr Blinken was seated some six seats away from Mr Lavrov, the Chinese foreign minister was seated farther down the same table as his Russian counterpart. This came after Russia took a swipe at Mr Blinken, saying Mr Lavrov talked to everyone who was not “hiding” during the ASEAN gala dinner.

Newsline: Chinese ambassador called to White House amid tensions over Pelosi Taiwan visit

Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Qin Gang has been called to the White House following a strong reaction from the Chinese government to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) trip to Taiwan. “After China’s actions overnight, we summoned Ambassador Qin Gang to the White House to démarche him about the PRC’s provocative actions,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told The Washington Post, referring to the People’s Republic of China. Kirby said that the White House “condemned” the military drills China began conducting in the waters surrounding Taiwan following Pelosi’s visit to Taipei. (https://news.yahoo.com/chinese-ambassador-called-white-house-115907160.html) Pelosi visited Taiwan as part of a trip to multiple countries across the Indo-Pacific region to discuss security issues in southeast Asia.

Newsline: Chinese Foreign Ministry announces sanctions on U.S. House Speaker

China has announced unspecified sanctions on U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her visit earlier this week to Taiwan. A Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said Friday that Pelosi had disregarded China’s concerns and resolute opposition to her visit to the self-ruled island, which Beijing claims. (https://keyt.com/news/2022/08/04/china-summons-european-diplomats-over-statement-on-taiwan/) Pelosi was the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the self-governing island in 25 years. China claims Taiwan as its territory and opposes it having its own engagements with foreign governments. The Chinese statement said Pelosi’s visit undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It said that sanctions would be imposed on Pelosi and her immediate family but didn’t say what they would be. Such sanctions are generally mostly symbolic in nature.

Newsline: U.S. Senior Diplomat Meets Samoa, Tonga leaders

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met with leaders in Samoa and Tonga on Friday, discussing climate change, ocean security and opportunities to work together as Washington seeks to re-engage with the region amid concerns about growing Chinese influence. The senior U.S. diplomat’s visit is part of a multi-leg trip to Pacific nations. Sherman was in the region to listen and learn, she told a news conference, and her meeting with Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa had been productive. “Our two countries share a commitment to important democratic values, including respect for human rights, a commitment to protecting freedom of expression, and freedom of religion or belief and a strong belief in the importance of a free and open press,” said Sherman. (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-08-04/u-s-senior-diplomat-kicks-off-pacific-tour-in-samoa) Several U.S. senior diplomats have visited the South Pacific this year as geostrategic competition in the region grows. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Samoa and Tonga in May, followed by Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong in early June.

Newsline: Moscow boots diplomat who was caught on video saying “I hate Russians”

Moscow said that a Norwegian consul can no longer stay in Russia after she was filmed declaring “I hate Russians” during an angry outburst at a hotel reception. “After what happened, Elisabeth Ellingsen’s presence in Russia is impossible,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/kremlin-norwegian-diplomat-elisabeth-ellingsen-video-i-hate-russians/) Earlier, the foreign ministry summoned Norwegian Ambassador Rune Resaland and protested about Ellingsen’s “insulting Russophobic remarks”. The Norwegian diplomat was recorded insulting Russians at a hotel reception in the Arctic city of Murmansk. The video was posted over the weekend by the Mash Telegram channel, reputed to be close to Russia’s security services, and sparked an outcry in the country. “I hate Russians. … Just give me a room. … I’m used to clean rooms, I’m from Scandinavia,” Ellingsen was recorded as saying in English. The Norwegian foreign ministry said over the weekend it “deeply regretted” the incident. “The sentiments expressed do not reflect Norwegian policy or the Norwegian attitude towards Russia,” the foreign ministry said. On Thursday, Moscow said it had taken note of the Norwegian foreign ministry’s statement. A spokeswoman for the Norwegian foreign ministry, Guri Solberg, said on Thursday the country’s ambassador had been informed that Moscow had revoked Ellingsen’s visa.

Newsline: Iran’s top diplomat demands release of citizen held in Saudi Arabia

Iran on Friday issued a public statement saying it is seeking the release of an Iranian national who has been held by Saudi Arabia since this year’s hajj pilgrimage, which concluded a month ago. Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the country’s top diplomat Hossein Amirabdollahian issued the call during a phone conversation with his Iraqi counterpart. Iraq has served as mediator and facilitator of talks between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. The statement did not identify the detainee. (https://news.yahoo.com/iran-demands-release-citizen-held-071755479.html) There was no immediate acknowledegment of the detention by Saudi Arabia.