Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for December 19, 2022

Newsline: US consulates in China suspend services amid Covid-19 wave

US consulates in China have suspended most of their services because of the Covid-19 surge across the country. The US embassy in Beijing and consulate in Shanghai have limited their services to passport and emergency consular services. Consulates in Guangzhou, Shenyang and Wuhan will only offer emergency consular services until further notice, the US Mission to China announced on its WeChat account. The announcement said the suspension was because of the “operational impacts caused by the surge of Covid-19 infections across China”. (https://www.msn.com/en-sg/news/world/us-consulates-in-china-cut-services-as-covid-19-wave-sweeps-country/ar-) Visa services have been halted except for a few previously scheduled services in Shanghai. Regular visa appointments at all locations have been cancelled, and applicants must reschedule their appointments, it said.

Newsline: Guatemala eyes summit of ‘Taiwan-friendly’ countries in March 2023

Guatemala plans to hold a summit in March for senior officials from “Taiwan-friendly” countries and hopes Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will attend, the Guatemalan ambassador in Taipei said on Monday. Speaking after presenting Tsai his diplomatic credentials as new ambassador in Taiwan, Oscar Adolfo Padilla Lam reaffirmed his country’s friendship, according to a read out of the meeting from the Taiwanese presidential office. “As Taiwan’s unchanging friend and ally, Guatemala intends to hold a high-level meeting of Taiwan-friendly countries in March to promote exchanges between friendly countries and reaffirm recognition and support for the Republic of China, Taiwan,” he said, referring to the island’s official name. “If President Tsai’s itinerary allows, I hope she can co-chair such an important meeting with President (Alejandro) Giammattei.” (https://neuters.de/world/guatemala-plans-march-summit-taiwan-friendly-countries-2022-12-19/) Tsai, who visited Guatemala in 2017, did not say in a statement from her office about the meeting if she would take up the invitation. However, she thanked Guatemala for its support, including sending Foreign Minister Mario Bucaro to Taipei in August just after China carried out war games near the island. Guatemala is one of only 14 countries to retain formal diplomatic ties with Chinese-claimed Taiwan, and one of three allies left in Central America, alongside Honduras and Belize.

Newsline: Door left open for Iran nuclear diplomacy

For nearly two years the United States has tried and failed to negotiate a revival of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal yet Washington and its European allies refuse to close the door to diplomacy. Their reasons reflect the danger of alternative approaches, the unpredictable consequences of a military strike on Iran, and the belief that there is still time to alter Tehran’s course: even if it is inching toward making fissile material it is not there yet, nor has it mastered the technology to build a bomb, according to officials. “I think that we do not have a better option than the JCPOA to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons,” Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said last week in Brussels after a meeting of EU officials. Under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action under which Tehran reined in its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions. “We have to continue engaging as much as possible in trying to revive this deal.” (https://neuters.de/world/us-leaves-door-open-iran-nuclear-diplomacy-2022-12-19/) The uphill climb to revive the pact has grown steeper this year. Iran has brutally cracked down on popular protests, Iranian drones have allegedly made their way to aid Russia’s war in Ukraine and Tehran has accelerated its nuclear program, all of which raise the political price to giving Iran sanctions relief.