Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for October 9, 2022

Newsline: Former U.S. ambassador “cautiously optimistic” about prisoners exchange negotiations

Former ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the negotiations to secure the release of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan from Russia. “I think it’s going to be a two for two,” said Richardson, who added that he has met with senior Russian officials; “individuals close to President Vladimir Putin.” Richardson, the former New Mexico governor and diplomat, reportedly visited Russia last month, while the U.S. government cautioned that “private citizens should not be in Russia at all right now.” When asked about the prospect of a Richardson trip to Russia, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told CNN: “Our message is that private citizens should not be in Russia at all right now and that private citizens cannot negotiate on behalf of the United States government.” “We share Mr. Richardson’s desire to see Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan home with their families … and we’re working very, very hard to do that, through government channels. That’s the appropriate way to do that,” Kirby said. Richardson in response to Kirby’s remarks said: “I’m not part of the government, the government channel, I’ve always made that clear, I respect that.” “I’m not going to interfere in their process,” Richardson said of the Biden administration’s efforts to secure the release of Whelan and Griner. (https://www.axios.com/2022/10/09/brittney-griner-paul-whelan-russia-release-bill-richardson) Richardson has been involved in negotiating the release of several Americans detained abroad through the Richardson Center for Global Engagement.

Newsline: Chinese ambassador thanks Musk for proposal on Taiwan

China’s ambassador to the United States has thanked billionaire Elon Musk for proposing a special administration zone for Taiwan but stressed Beijing’s call for “peaceful reunification and ‘one country, two systems'” for the island. Musk suggested that tensions between China and Taiwan could be resolved by handing over some control of Taiwan to Beijing. “My recommendation . . . would be to figure out a special administrative zone for Taiwan that is reasonably palatable, probably won’t make everyone happy,” Musk told the Financial Times in an interview published on Friday. Musk was responding to a question about China, where his Tesla electric car company operates a large factory. In tweets posted on Saturday, Chinese ambassador to the United States Qin Gang wrote: “I would like to thank @elonmusk for his call for peace across the Taiwan Strait and his idea about establishing a special administrative zone for Taiwan.” “Provided that China’s sovereignty, security and development interests are guaranteed, after reunification Taiwan will enjoy a high degree of autonomy as a special administrative region, and a vast space for development,” the ambassador wrote. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/chinese-ambassador-thanks-musk-proposal-161342987.html) China has offered Taiwan a “one country, two systems” model of autonomy similar to what Hong Kong has, but that has been rejected by all mainstream political parties in Taiwan and has no public support. Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment on Musk’s comments on Saturday.

Newsline: Turkey summons Swedish ambassador comedy TV jokes

Turkey summoned the ambassador of Sweden to complain about “insulting content” directed at President Tayyip Erdogan on Swedish TV, according to a report published by Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu Agency. According to Anadolu, Swedish Ambassador Staffan Herrstrom was told by Turkey’s foreign ministry that the “impertinent and ugly expression and images” about Erdogan and Turkey seen on Swedish TV were unacceptable. (https://www.malaysiasun.com/news/272867103/after-swedish-comedy-tv-jokes-about-erdogan-turkey-summons-ambassador) Swedish News, which routinely mocks Swedish and international politicians, targeted Erdogan over alleged human rights abuses and ended the segment by shouting, “Long live democracy!” Swedish public service television is tax-funded, but operates independently.