Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for August 11, 2022

Newsline: Nigerian Embassy In Mexico Shuts Down Over COVID-19

The Nigerian embassy in Mexico has been closed due to an outbreak of COVID-19 at the embassy. Abimbola Tooki, special adviser on media to Adejare Bello, Nigerian ambassador to Mexico via a statement on Monday said that six staff of the embassy tested positive for COVID-19. The ambassador said that the closure would last till August 15, 2022. He said the affected staff are undergoing treatment and that the situation is under control. (https://bizwatchnigeria.ng/nigerian-embassy-in-mexico-shuts-down-over-covid-19/) Bello disclosed that appropriate quarters like the ministry of foreign affairs, Abuja and that of Mexico have been duly notified of this development. The temporary closure, according to the ambassador, will allow the Embassy to be fumigated and all other precautions put in place while the closure lasts. Bello also said that all home-based officers and the local staff of the mission have been directed to work from home pending further directives.

Newsline: Austria to Reopen Embassy in Baghdad

On 1 September, Austria’s embassy in Baghdad will reopen after being vacant since 1991. Western diplomats had left the city at that time, including the Austrian ambassador. Austria’s representation in Baghdad has not been occupied since 1991. At that time, Western dipolmats, including the then Austrian ambassador, had left the city. According to the “Kurier”, which refers to “well-informed circles”, the embassy is to be “housed in a protected, international area as a first step”. At present, there is no official confirmation. The website of the Austrian Foreign Ministry continues to state “The Austrian Embassy in Baghdad is closed for security reasons”. Security level 6 applies to the entire country – “all travel is warned against!” (https://www.vindobona.org/article/diplomatic-relations-with-iraq-austrias-embassy-in-baghdad-to-be-reopened) At present, consular duties for Iraq are performed by the Austrian Embassy in Amman, Yemen. Austrians in distress cannot be provided with consular assistance as long as they are on Iraqi territory.

Newsline: U.S. military attaches to U.K. and other countries downgraded

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will downgrade the senior military officer assigned to the U.S. Embassy in the United Kingdom, America’s closest ally, and similar positions at embassies in Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Kuwait. The position of Senior Defense Official/Defense Attache (SDO/DATT) will be downgraded from a general/admiral billet to, at most, a captain in the Navy or colonel in the other services, according to an Aug. 8 Pentagon memorandum obtained by the website Breaking Defense. (https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2022/aug/11/lloyd-austin-downgrades-us-military-attache-uk-and/) The downgrades will allow the Defense Department to meet congressionally mandated reductions in the number of generals and admirals in the military under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017. The defense attache represents the Pentagon and acts as the senior military adviser to the U.S. ambassador.

Newsline: UK summons China ambassador over Taiwan

The British government has summoned China’s ambassador to the United Kingdom this week. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called for the Chinese envoy to explain the increasingly aggressive actions China has taken on Taiwan. Truss on Wednesday summoned China’s ambassador to the UK Zhang Zeguang, to explain the increased aggression by Beijing on the island nation especially following the visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Truss reiterated the G7’s stance that called for China to resolve its disputes surrounding Taiwan in a peaceful manner. “I instructed officials to summon the Chinese Ambassador to explain his country’s actions. We have seen increasingly aggressive behavior and rhetoric from Beijing in recent months, which threaten peace and stability in the region,” said Truss in a statement. The Chinese Embassy responded that Zheng has rejected the criticism by the UK, describing it as “irresponsible” while saying that no foreign government has the authority to interfere in China’s “internal affairs.” (http://www.econotimes.com/South-China-Sea-UK-summons-China-ambassador-over-aggression-on-Taiwan-1639183) China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and visits by foreign officials to the island have drawn the ire of Beijing. Taiwan has resisted the pressure campaign that Beijing has increased on the island. China has also not ruled out taking control of Taiwan through military means.

Newsline: Australian Activist Arrested for Threatening to Blow Up China’s Embassy in London

For the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Drew Pavlou is a perennial troublemaker. Pavlou and his friends repeatedly disrupted a speech by China’s Ambassador to Australia that was supposed to reset troubled bilateral relations. In fact, that Pavlou, 23, is an almighty pain in the CCP’s backside is probably the only thing the two sides can agree on. But what Pavlou strenuously denies is ever using or threatening violence. And that’s where things get tricky. On July 21, Pavlou was arrested during a protest at the Chinese Embassy in London during which he brandished three flags—representing Taiwan and China’s Tibetan and Uyghur Muslim minorities—and superglued his hand to the front gate. But when London’s Metropolian Police officers arrived, they arrested him not only on suspicion of trespassing on diplomatic premises and criminal damage, as he expected, but also “communicating false information to make a bomb hoax.” During interrogation, investigating officers showed Pavlou an email from an account under his name that threatened to blow up the embassy building unless it received a reply by noon that day and steps were taken to end the oppression of the Uyghurs. Pavlou firmly denies sending it. He says he faces up to seven years if convicted. Pavlou has been remanded on bail until Aug. 14 and until then is unable to leave the U.K. The bomb hoax email came from the drewpavlou99@protonmail.me email address. Pavlou says he does have a Protonmail account, but that is not the one. However, the email prefix is identical to an account he has with gmail, which he says was hacked in January 2021 by someone using a Chinese IP address. Pavlou maintains that he has been set up by the CCP. “I think I was basically walking into a trap,” he tells TIME. (https://news.yahoo.com/curious-case-australian-activist-arrested-182611203.html) The Chinese Embassy had not replied to repeated requests for comment at time of publication.