Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for September 19, 2022

Newsline: Indian diplomacy seen as showing ace performance at Samarkand

The 22nd summit of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) took place in Uzbekistan’s capital Samarkand, last week. In his address at the summit, Modi obdurately touched every relevant aspect of the current geo-political situation. In a speech that was otherwise free from references to India’s regional issues on terrorism with Pakistan and on territorial sovereignty with China, Modi called for greater cooperation in the Eurasian region. He also focused on initiatives on manufacturing that India is willing to pilot in the next year, when India assumes the chair of the SCO and hosts the Summit in mid-2023. The most important meeting from India’s standpoint was a possible meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. In fact, Samarkand offered the perfect opportunity for two leaders to reset the ties. But there seemed little willingness from the two sides, to compromise. Modi and Xi have met twice earlier but that is not enough to read each other’s thoughts and also make a convincing and principled case, though both the countries stand to gain much economically, if ties are improved. Modi’s bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the summit also received a lot of attention. The two leaders shared the customary diplomatic greetings, with Modi specifically emphasising that the modern era was not a time of war. According to reports, Putin acknowledged India’s position on the Ukrainian conflict and reaffirmed his commitment to a speedy resolution. India and Chinese leaders expressing their concerns directly with the Russian leader about the war in Ukraine is reflective of global concerns. The manner in which Modi and his diplomatic team carried the business at Samarkand shows the maturity and coming of age of the Indian diplomacy under the Prime Minister. (https://in.investing.com/news/indian-diplomacys-ace-performance-at-samarkand-3348159) India will be hosting the next SCO Summit in 2023, and this will offer Modi an opportunity to develop the organisation into a more meaningful and cohesive organisation.

Newsline: Russia says U.S. embassy not helpful in prisoner swap talks

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Monday that it was ready for talks on a prisoner exchange to free U.S. citizens jailed in Russia, but that the American embassy in Moscow was “not fulfilling its official duties” to maintain dialogue. Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “We have stated many times that we are ready for negotiations to resolve the fate of U.S. citizens convicted in Russia and Russian citizens in the U.S.” (https://www.fxempire.com/news/article/russia-says-ready-for-u-s-prisoner-exchange-talks-but-u-s-embassy-not-fulfilling-duties-1131378) Russia has previously suggested that it is open to a prisoner exchange which could include U.S. Marine Corps veteran Paul Whelan, basketball star Brittney Griner and Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer jailed in the United States. Griner is serving a 9 year jail sentence for possession and smuggling of cannabis, while Whelan is serving a 16 year term for espionage. The Kremlin has repeatedly said that what it called “megaphone diplomacy” from Washington would not help efforts to organise a prisoner exchange, urging closed talks instead.

Newsline: Maldives eyes first U.S. embassy later this year or in early 2023

The Maldives hopes to see the United States open a first embassy in the country at the end of the year, or early next, and the Indian Ocean state hopes to reopen its embassy in Washington by the end of this year, the Maldivian foreign minister said on Sunday. Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid told an event in New York hosted by a U.S. think tank that he believes relations between the Maldives and Washington “have never been this strong.” “Hopefully by the end of this year, or early next year, we will have the United States embassy up and running in the Maldives, which is historic,” he said. He said the Maldives was looking for property to house an embassy in Washington and added: “It is our target that we will have our embassy up and running by the end of the year.” (https://news.yahoo.com/maldives-hopes-first-u-embassy-230515015.html) Shahid said the Maldives had an embassy in Washington after independence in 1965 but this had to be closed due to budgetary reasons. He said he reopened the embassy in 2007 in his previous stint as foreign minister, but it was closed again after a change of government in 2008. Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the plan to open a U.S. embassy in the Maldives during a visit to the country in 2020. In July, U.S. President Joe Biden announced his intention to nominate a career foreign service officer, Hugo Yue-Ho Yon, to be ambassador to the Maldives. U.S. diplomatic dealings with the Maldives are currently handled through the U.S. embassy in politically troubled Sri Lanka, while the Maldives is represented in the United States via its mission to the United Nations.