Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for September 17, 2022

Newsline: Queen’s funeral comes as major diplomatic event

Monday’s funeral will be one of the biggest diplomatic events of recent years, with some 500 heads of state and foreign dignitaries expected to attend. It is providing Ms Truss with an opportunity to meet foreign counterparts less than two weeks after taking office. But a planned meeting between Liz Truss and US President Joe Biden before the Queen’s funeral has been cancelled, Downing Street has said. No 10 said a “full bilateral meeting” between the PM and Mr Biden would instead take place at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. (https://news.yahoo.com/liz-truss-meet-world-leaders-143515354.html) Although she met Mr Biden when she was foreign secretary, next week’s UN meeting with him in New York will be Ms Truss’s first as UK prime minister. Ms Truss met her counterparts from New Zealand and Australia on Saturday. The prime minister held informal talks with Jacinda Ardern and Australian premier Anthony Albanese at Chevening House in Kent. And Number 10 confirmed Ms Truss will see Irish Taoiseach [prime minister] Micheál Martin, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, and Polish President Andrzej Duda at Downing Street on Sunday. But Downing Street had stressed that talks this weekend would not be formal bilateral meetings because of the official 10-day mourning period following the death of the Queen. It would not be issuing summaries of the discussions as would normally happen after the PM’s meetings with foreign leaders, No 10 added.

Newsline: Israel Appoints New Ambassador to Morocco

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has appointed Alona Fisher as head of Israel’s liaison office in Rabat, replacing David Govrin, following sexual harassment allegations and administrative malpractice against him. Fisher was a former Israeli ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro. She has also served as Israel’s ambassador chargé d’affaires to Spain, France, and Argentina. This move came after the Israeli Foreign Ministry recalled Govrin, as it “continues to investigate recent sexual harassment allegations.” Govrin addressed the allegations, describing them as “false.” He said that the chief security officer of the Israeli Liaison in Rabat made up the allegations because the former recommended dismissing him. Officials in Morocco took a firm stance against Govrin and demanded recalling him instantly, threatening to arrest him. (https://english.aawsat.com/home/article/3877421/israel-appoints-new-ambassador-morocco) Moroccan officials affirmed that the police continue to question women who work at the embassy.

Newsline: U.S. Passport Renewal Is Coming Online

Following the success of a limited pilot program for online passport renewal this summer, the U.S. State Department says it plans to fully launch an online passport renewal option for the general public in early 2023. The shift, which for many will eliminate the need for piles of paperwork and hours spent waiting in line at passport offices, is meant to offer relief after the pandemic created two years of extensive delays and backlogs for passport seekers. The online renewal option was created following a December 2021 executive order from President Joe Biden, who demanded the federal government “design and deliver services in a manner that people of all abilities can navigate.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/16/travel/online-passport-renewal.html) An initial pilot program was launched in February for federal government employees and contractors. After that closed, a second program opened Aug. 2 for 25,000 members of the public; it closed to applicants on Aug. 12. State Department officials say they plan to initiate a third pilot program for a limited number of applicants later in September, and while they don’t yet have a specific date for launching the system for all Americans, they say they intend to do so by early 2023.