Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for August 16, 2022

Newsline: EU says diplomats studying Iran’s response to nuclear proposal

The European Union is assessing Iran’s response to what the bloc has called its “final” proposal to save a 2015 nuclear deal, and consulting with the United States, an EU spokesperson said on Tuesday. “For the moment, we are studying it and we are consulting with the other JCPOA participants and the U.S. on the way forward,” the spokesperson told reporters in Brussels, referring to the nuclear deal by the official abbreviation JCPOA. She declined to give a time frame for any reaction by the EU who is coordinating the negotiations in Vienna. After 16 months of fitful, indirect U.S.-Iranian talks, with the EU shuttling between the parties, a senior EU official said on Aug. 8 the bloc had laid down a “final” offer and expected a response within a “very, very few weeks.” (https://news.yahoo.com/eu-says-studying-irans-response-104358311.html) Iran responded to the proposal late on Monday but neither Tehran nor the EU provided any details on the content of the reply. Earlier on Monday, Iran’s foreign minister had called on the U.S. to show flexibility to resolve three remaining issues, suggesting Tehran’s response would not be a final acceptance or rejection. Washington has said it is ready to quickly seal a deal to restore the 2015 accord on the basis of the EU proposals. Diplomats and officials have told Reuters that whether or not Tehran and Washington accept the EU’s “final” offer, neither is likely to declare the pact dead because keeping it alive serves both sides’ interests.

Newsline: Ambassador says European Union is working to increase ties in Pacific

The European Union is working to boost its presence in the Pacific through economic ties and new security commitments as geostrategic competition in the region intensifies, the bloc’s ambassador to Pacific Island nations said on Tuesday. Ambassador Sujiro Seam told Reuters in an interview during a visit to New Zealand the EU had long been seen as a development partner in the Pacific and that it wanted to be perceived as an economic and strategic partner as well. “The geostrategic importance of the Pacific is recognised by everyone, including the European Union,” Seam said. (https://news.yahoo.com/european-union-working-increase-economic-083545404.html) The European Union has long had a presence in the Pacific, mostly via France’s ties to French Polynesia. In 2021, the European Union set out a formal Indo-Pacific strategy and announced a 300 billion euro ($305 billion) global infrastructure fund that Seam said was helping to boost ties. The EU’s push comes as major powers are vying for influence in the region, with the United States and Australia ramping up engagement in the Pacific after China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands this year.

Newsline: Chinese diplomacy seeks to exploit Riyadh-Washington tensions

Chinese President Xi Jinping will soon end more than two years of self-imposed in-person diplomatic isolation as he travels to Saudi Arabia to meet with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — a month after President Joe Biden’s strained visit to Jeddah. The Xi trip has not been confirmed, but an unnamed Saudi source said it may occur as early as this week. Xi can expect a full helping of Saudi diplomatic pomp and ceremony in contrast to Biden’s low-profile visit, punctuated by an awkward fist bump with MBS, as the Crown Prince is known. Instead of pesky questions about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, Xi will get a red-carpet welcome and likely respond with a full-throated affirmation of deepening Saudi-Chinese ties. (https://news.yahoo.com/xi-jinping-saudi-trip-seeks-083000292.html) Xi’s choice of Saudi Arabia as his first overseas destination since January 2020 gives him a dual diplomatic victory. It offers a high-profile assertion of warm relations with a key energy supplier. And it allows him to project Chinese power without any risk of embarrassing public protests about Beijing’s abuses of Xinjiang’s Muslim Uyghurs, its evisceration of rule of law in Hong Kong and increasing Chinese military intimidation of Taiwan following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the self-governing island earlier this month. The visit not only affirms China’s growing global influence, but it lets MBS signal to the Biden administration that the U.S. has a serious rival as Riyadh’s superpower patron of choice.