Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for August 19, 2022

Newsline: Russia pledges “quiet” diplomacy with U.S. on prisoner swap

Russia’s foreign ministry said it was engaged in “quiet diplomacy” with the United States regarding a potential prisoner swap that would include basketball star Brittney Griner. Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star, was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia on drug charges on Aug. 4 in a ruling U.S. President Joe Biden called “unacceptable”. “Quiet diplomacy is under way and it should bear fruit if Washington follows it, and not fall into propaganda through media hype to score points before an election,” said Ivan Nechayev, a spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry, referring to the U.S. midterm elections in November. (https://www.fxempire.com/news/article/russia-says-quiet-diplomacy-on-griner-prisoner-swap-with-u-s-ongoing-1100296) The Kremlin had previously said that U.S. officials were undermining efforts to secure a prisoner swap by resorting to “megaphone diplomacy” over the case. Washington has offered to exchange Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout for Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, sources familiar with the situation have told Reuters. Whelan, who holds American, British, Canadian and Irish passports, was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in jail after being convicted of spying. He denied the charge. Griner, who had been prescribed medical cannabis in the United States to relieve pain from chronic injuries, was arrested on Feb. 17 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage. Cannabis is illegal in Russia for both medicinal and recreational purposes.

Newsline: Indian embassy newly re-opened in Kabul to expand activities

According to TOLO news, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the spokesperson for the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Twitter that the recently “re-opened” Indian embassy in Kabul is anticipated to expand activities. “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan appreciates this step of India, which wants to increase the level of diplomatic representation of its embassy in Kabul,” said Abdul Qahar Balkhi in a Tweet. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/indian-embassy-newly-re-opened-in-kabul-karzai-urged-ambassador-not-to-leave/ar-AA10PpTu) Local workers provided consular services in the Indian Embassy in Kabul, according to local media sources, and it was never shuttered. The “technical team,” which has been stationed there since June and focuses on commercial and trade opportunities as well as the provision of food and medical supplies, will expand the Embassy’s operations. Another Indian team recently went to Kabul to supervise the distribution of our humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and met with Taliban leaders. An evaluation of the security situation was also done during the visit.

Newsline: US, Emirati ambassadors discuss efforts for holding elections in Libya

The US Ambassador/Envoy to Libya, Richard Norland, met with the UAE Ambassador to Libya, Muhammad Al Shamsi for talks that focused on efforts to hold elections in Libya as soon as possible. “I thanked him for the role the UAE is playing on the UN SC and in its engagements with key Libyan leaders to stabilize Libya,” Norland wrote on Twitter. (https://www.libyaobserver.ly/inbrief/norland-emirati-ambassador-libya-discuss-efforts-holding-elections-libya) In a phone call with the Presidential Council Vice President Abdullah Al-Lafi, last Monday, ambassador Norland called on the Government of National Unity to continue engagement with Libyan institutions to pave the way for presidential and parliamentary elections as soon as possible.