Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for September 9, 2022

Newsline: China ambassador says U.N. report ‘closed door of cooperation’

China’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva said on Friday that Beijing would not cooperate with the U.N. human rights office following the release of a report on alleged human rights abuses in the far western region of Xinjiang. “The office closed the door of cooperation by releasing the so-called assessment,” Ambassador Chen Xu told reporters, describing the report released on Aug. 31 as “illegal and invalid”. (https://www.fxempire.com/news/article/china-ambassador-u-n-report-on-xinjiang-has-closed-door-of-cooperation-1122053) The report, which China had sought to bury, stipulates that “serious human rights violations have been committed” in China and said the detention of Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang may constitute crimes against humanity. China vigorously denies any abuses in Xinjiang. The report was released minutes before outgoing High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet ended her four-year term and followed her visit to the country in May. Previously, Bachelet had been accused by some rights activists of being too soft on China although the hard-hitting report helped redeem her credibility in the eyes of some. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is currently being run by a deputy pending the arrival in Geneva of Austria’s Volker Turk who was appointed on Thursday. An OHCHR spokesperson declined to provide an immediate comment on the Chinese ambassador’s remarks.

Newsline: Russians mourn Queen Elizabeth with flowers at UK embassy

Russians laid flowers at the British embassy Friday, despite the dire state of relations between London and Moscow. “Despite what is going on now, the Queen and the royal house have always been the personification of peace and goodness,” said Muscovite Anton Avramets after placing a pink bouquet alongside many others on a wall outside the embassy. (https://news.yahoo.com/russians-mourn-queen-elizabeth-flowers-115108971.html) There were lighted candles among the tributes, and one woman made a sign of the cross as she placed red roses on the wall. Russia’s already poor relations with Britain have worsened sharply since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, and Moscow frequently rails against British leaders, including incoming prime minister Liz Truss this week. But it made an exception for the queen; President Vladimir Putin called her death an “irreparable loss” in a condolence message on Thursday.

Newsline: At UK embassy in Washington US President signed condolence book for Queen Elizabeth

Joe Biden has signed a condolence book for Queen Elizabeth at the UK embassy in Washington DC as he called the late monarch “a great lady.” The president and first lady were greeted at the embassy by British Ambassador Dame Karen Pierce and her husband, according to a pool report. Mr Biden asked the ambassador if he could write in the condolence book, and she told him, “if you would like to Sir.” The president then sat at a table where the book sat alongside a photograph of the Queen and a bouquet of flowers. He then spent several minutes writing in the book, as the first lady, Jill Biden, stood next to him. Ms Biden then sat in the chair and added her signature to the president’s message. “We mourn for all of you. She was a great lady, I’m so delighted I got to meet her,” Mr Biden said and he walked over to meet with embassy staff. “Our hearts are with you,” the First Lady told the embassy staff. Mr Biden then thanks the staff and added, “As my mother would say, God, love you.” (https://news.yahoo.com/biden-signs-condolence-book-queen-224627523.html) The president and first lady then held hands as they walked out of the room.

Newsline: Australia’s diplomatic efforts in the Pacific seen bearing fruit

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has announced it wants to establish a security agreement with Australia, welcome news for analysts wary of rising Chinese influence. This decision reflects well on Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s tireless diplomacy with Pacific Island capitals. Since becoming Foreign Minister a little over three months ago, Wong has made four separate trips to the Pacific; to Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and Solomon Islands, as well as engaging with Pacific leaders during July’s Pacific Islands Forum Summit. And these efforts appear to be paying off. Not only has PNG expressed an interest in a security pact with Australia, but Timor-Leste has also just signed a defence cooperation agreement. (https://theconversation.com/penny-wongs-diplomacy-efforts-in-the-pacific-begin-to-bear-fruit-with-png-security-pact-189710) However, there is both much more and much less to the PNG security announcement than meets the eye. The announcement by Justin Tkatchenko, PNG’s new foreign minister, was light on detail. Tkatchenko said the security treaty with Australia has been in the works since 2019 but has been spurred by the recent security agreement between Solomon Islands and China.