Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for August 25, 2022

Newsline: India votes against Russia in UNSC on Ukraine for first time

India for the first time voted against Russia during a “procedural vote” at the United Nations Security Council on Ukraine, as the 15-member powerful UN body invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to address a meeting through a video tele-conference. So far, New Delhi has abstained at the UN Security Council on Ukraine, much to the annoyance of the Western powers led by the United States. India currently is a non-permanent member of the UNSC for a two-year term, which ends in December. On Wednesday, the UNSC held a meeting to take stock of the now six-month-old conflict on the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s independence. As the meeting began, Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily A Nebenzia requested a procedural vote concerning Ukrainian President’s participation in the meeting by video tele-conference. Following statements by him and Ferit Hoxha of Albania, the Council extended an invitation to Zelensky to participate in the meeting via video tele-conference by a vote of 13 in favour to one against. Russia voted against such an invitation, while China abstained. This is for the first time that India has voted against Russia on the issue of Ukraine, after the Russian military action began in February. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/for-first-time-india-votes-against-russia-in-unsc-during-procedural-vote-on-ukraine/ar-AA114IIf) New Delhi has repeatedly called upon the Russian and Ukrainian sides to return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue, and also expressed its support for all diplomatic efforts to end the conflict between the two countries.

Newsline: Lebanon Investigates Death Threats Against Saudi Embassy

Lebanon’s interior minister asked security forces to investigate death threats against the Saudi embassy in Lebanon after Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Lebanon shared a recording containing such threats on his Twitter account. Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi said his order was based on his “concern for Lebanon’s interest and security and good relations with brotherly nations, especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia”, a ministry statement said. Saudi Ambassador Walid al-Bukhari earlier shared a tweet from a pro-Saudi account containing a recording by a man, who the interior ministry believes to be a Saudi national living in Beirut’s southern suburbs, a stronghold of Iran-backed Hezbollah. The interior ministry statement said he was “wanted by Saudi authorities for terrorist crimes”. The man says that if anything happens to any member of his family, “no employee at the Saudi embassy will remain alive… I will annihilate everyone in the Saudi embassy, everyone who is related to the Saudi embassy.” (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-08-24/lebanon-investigates-recorded-death-threats-against-saudi-embassy) The Saudi Embassy in Lebanon was not immediately available for comment and the Saudi government’s media centre did not respond to a request for comment. Relations hit a low last year when Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador after critical comments by a pro-Hezbollah minister. The ambassador returned earlier this year, and Saudi Arabia has since pledged limited financial support to the Lebanese health sector.

Newsline: Britain’s former ambassador to Myanmar detained in Yangon

Authorities in Myanmar have detained Britain’s former ambassador to the Southeast Asian nation, where a military junta seized power last year, three people with knowledge of the situation said on Thursday. Vicky Bowman, who currently runs the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MCRB), and her husband, Htein Lin, a Burmese artist and former political prisoner, were detained on Wednesday, the sources said, asking not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue. A source with knowledge of the situation said Bowman and her husband had been charged with immigration offences. (https://uk.investing.com/news/world-news/britains-former-myanmar-envoy-detained-in-yangon–sources-2731993 The arrest comes on the heels of Britain announcing that it is imposing fresh sanctions to target military-linked businesses in Myanmar and joining the case against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice. Three companies are being penalised with sanctions “in an effort to limit the military’s access to arms and revenue”, the British government said in a statement on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the Myanmar junta did not answer repeated calls seeking comment.

Newsline: US ambassador arrives to post in Sudan following 25-year freeze

The first US ambassador to Sudan in 25 years arrived in the country on Wednesday in the latest sign of improved relations between the two nations after the United States removed Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Relations between the US and Sudan were tense during the three-decade rule of former President Omar al-Bashir. During Bashir’s time in power, the US imposed withering sanctions on Khartoum. “I am delighted to arrive in Sudan,” said John Godfrey, the new US ambassador to Sudan, in a tweet on Wednesday. “I look forward to deepening relations between Americans and Sudanese and to supporting the Sudanese people’s aspirations to freedom, peace, justice, and a transition to democracy.” (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/8/24/us-ambassador-arrives-to-post-in-sudan-following-25-year-freeze) The US embassy said in a statement that Godfrey “also looks forward to advancing priorities related to peace and security, economic development, and food security”. Godfrey’s arrival came as Sudan struggles to address widespread unrest and an economy that has been hard-hit since a military coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan last year. Relations between Washington and Khartoum started to thaw under the now-deposed transitional government led by former Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Hamdok took office following Bashir’s April 2019 removal, which took place after large protests against his rule.