Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for August 9, 2022

Newsline: Diplomat involved in Canada police altercation was in legal dispute with landlord

The Senegalese diplomat involved in an allegedly violent Gatineau Police Service intervention later deemed “totally unacceptable” by Global Affairs Canada was embroiled in a rental dispute in the leadup to last week’s incident. In a June 2022 decision by Quebec’s provincial rental tribunal, the diplomat was ordered to pay more than $45,000, plus interest, to a landlord who claimed his home in Gatineau’s Aylmer sector was damaged during the diplomat’s stay there. Tribunal database information obtained by Radio-Canada also indicates a “notice of execution” was filed in the case on July 29, followed by a notice to “enter a place” on Aug. 2 — the same day the altercation took place between Gatineau police officers and the Embassy of Senegal diplomat, who was working from home. (https://ici.radio-canada.ca/rci/en/news/1904204/diplomat-involved-in-gatineau-police-altercation-was-in-legal-dispute-with-landlord) Last week, Senegal’s government issued a statement alleging that “Canadian police exercised humiliating physical and moral violence on the diplomat in front of witnesses and in the presence of her minor children.” In its own version of events, the Gatineau Police Service said officers were accompanying a bailiff executing an order. Police arrested an aggressive person after one officer was punched, and a second officer was bitten while the person resisted arrest, according to that account. Quebec’s Ministry of Public Security announced the province’s police watchdog is investigating the actions of officers and that a police complaint against the arrested person has been dropped “due to the applicable diplomatic immunity.” The incident involved the First Counsellor of the Embassy of Senegal in Ottawa, the ministry added. When reached by CBC News at the embassy in Ottawa on Monday, Senegal’s ambassador in Ottawa, Viviane Laure Elisabeth Bampassy, declined to comment on the incident while an investigation is underway.

Newsline: Chinese diplomat says military drill near Taiwan aimed as warning to US

Beijing is conducting military drills around Taiwan to give a warning to the United States and teach a lesson to “Taiwanese separatists,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Tuesday. “The measures that we took in response to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s hasty visit to Taiwan are absolutely legitimate and justified,” he pointed out when asked to confirm or deny statements that China was conducting the drills as part of preparations for a military invasion of Taiwan. “It is a warning for instigators and a lesson for Taiwanese separatists,” the diplomat added. (https://en.mehrnews.com/news/190030/China-diplomat-clarifies-goals-of-military-drill-near-Taiwan) The Chinese armed forces launched military exercises involving live firing in six areas around Taiwan the next day after Pelosi’s visit to Taipei. Beijing regards Taiwan as one of its provinces.

Newsline: Former Merkel spokesman becomes Germany’s ambassador to Israel

Steffen Seibert, the long-time spokesman of former chancellor Angela Merkel, has officially taken office as Germany’s new ambassador to Israel. The 62-year-old presented his credentials to Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday. “The friendship between Israel and Germany is a treasure, and I am honoured to work to strengthen it,” Seibert wrote on Twitter after the official ceremony in Jerusalem. “Without forgetting the past, we look to the future together,” the Israeli president said, praising Germany’s commitment to Israel’s security. (https://www.msn.com/en-xl/news/other/former-merkel-spokesman-becomes-german-ambassador-to-israel/ar-AA10sQVK) Seibert was government spokesman under Merkel for more than 11 years. Before that, he worked as a television journalist for public broadcaster ZDF. In Israel, he has taken over the post from the previous ambassador, Susanne Wasum-Rainer, who had her last working day there at the end of June.

Newsline: Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry asks China to postpone ship visit after India protests

Sri Lanka says it has asked China to defer a planned visit of a Chinese ship to the island country after initially approving its arrival this week, yielding to diplomatic pressure from neighbour India to keep the military vessel out. Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said on July 12 it had approved the ship’s arrival for this month. “Subsequently in light of the need for further consultations, the ministry has communicated to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Colombo to defer the visit of the said vessel to the Hambantota port,” the ministry said in a statement on Monday. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/8/9/sri-lanka-asks-china-to-postpone-ship-visit-after-india-protests) Asked about the controversy over the ship, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular news briefing that China’s relations with Sri Lanka were “not targeted at third parties”. Wenbin told reporters it is “completely unjustified for certain countries to cite the so-called ‘security concerns’ to pressure Sri Lanka”. The Yuan Wang 5 was due to arrive on Thursday at the Chinese-built and leased Hambantota port in Sri Lanka’s south for five days for replenishment. It is currently sailing in the east Indian Ocean, according to Refinitiv Eikon. Foreign security analysts describe the Yuan Wang 5 as one of China’s latest generation space-tracking ships, used to monitor satellite, rocket and intercontinental ballistic missile launches. The Pentagon says Yuan Wang ships are operated by the Strategic Support Force of the People’s Liberation Army. India said late last month it was monitoring the planned visit of the ship, adding that New Delhi would protect its security and economic interests. India also lodged a verbal protest with the Sri Lankan government. New Delhi fears its bigger and more powerful rival China will use Hambantota as a military base in India’s back yard. The $1.5bn port is near the main shipping route from Asia to Europe.

Newsline: Honduras to consider returning Israeli embassy to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem

Honduras is considering moving its embassy in Israel back to Tel Aviv, a year after moving it to Jerusalem, according to the Honduran foreign ministry. (https://news.yahoo.com/honduras-consider-returning-israeli-embassy-170817610.html) Former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, a conservative who considered himself a close Washington ally, moved Honduras’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in 2021. The United States had moved its embassy to Jerusalem in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, reversing decades of U.S. policy. Hernandez was extradited to the United States earlier this year on charges of drug trafficking. His successor, leftist Xiomara Castro, took office in January. “The issue of moving the embassy to Tel Aviv has already been discussed with President (Castro) and is a topic of interest to her, as well as maintaining a balanced relationship with the other Arab countries and Israel,” Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina said in a statement. Reina discussed the issue in a meeting with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki on Sunday in Bogota, where they were visiting for the inauguration ceremony of Colombian President Gustavo Petro. The United States, Honduras, Guatemala and Kosovo are the only countries with embassies in Jerusalem; other countries have them in Tel Aviv.