Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for January 5, 2023

Newsline: Vietnam disciplines former, current top diplomats

Vietnam’s National Assembly, the country’s lawmaking body, on Thursday voted to dismiss two deputy prime ministers from their posts, a government statement said. There was no explanation of parliament’s decision to remove Pham Binh Minh and Vu Duc Dam, but the move comes at a time when the communist-ruled country is intensifying its fight against graft. The men have not been arrested and no charges have been filed against them. Minh, 63, served as the country’s foreign minister between 2011 and 2021, and as a deputy prime minister from 2013. The communist party removed Minh from the politburo, its most powerful decision making body. In a separate move, police in Vietnam on Thursday arrested a former Vietnamese ambassador to Malaysia, Tran Viet Thai, as it widened its investigation into the scandal. Thai, who was appointed ambassador to Malaysia in 2020, is accused of “abusing power in performance of official duties,” the Ministry of Public Security said in a statement. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/vietnam-removes-two-deputy-pms-amid-anti-corruption-drive-2023-01-05/) The party last month disciplined the Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son over the involvement of several ministry officials and diplomats in the scandal over repatriation flights.

Newsline: Former US Diplomat’s Daughter Convicted of Murder

The daughter of a former U.S. diplomat was found guilty of second-degree murder in a fatal stabbing in Montgomery County, Maryland. A jury convicted 29-year-old Sophia Negroponte for stabbing 24-year-old Yousuf Rasmussen at a Rockville apartment in February 2020. (https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/former-us-diplomats-daughter-convicted-of-murder/3246221/) Negroponte is the daughter of former Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte. She faces a maximum of 40 years in prison when she is sentenced in March.

Newsline: EU top diplomat to visit Morocco despite graft scandal

The EU defended a trip by its top diplomat to Morocco, which has been linked, along with Qatar, to a graft scandal unrolling at the European Parliament. As “there is no proof” of wrongdoing at this stage, it is right the trip by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Thursday and Friday should go ahead, a spokesman for Borrell said. “No one has officially said from the judicial point of view that Morocco as a country is guilty, and Morocco should be avoided in international contact,” said the spokesman, Peter Stano. (https://news.yahoo.com/borrell-visit-morocco-clouded-eu-133642277.html) The scandal erupted last month when Belgian police raided several addresses used by some lawmakers and aides in the European Parliament, lobbyists and NGO heads. The searches turned up 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) in cash, suspected to be pay-offs as part of efforts to influence decisions in the European Parliament. Four suspects are in custody, including a Greek MEP, Eva Kaili. She was not able to excercise her parliamentary immunity because a judge determined she had been caught red-handed. Kaili, who was stripped of her position as one of the parliament’s 14 vice presidents after her arrest, insists she is innocent. Through her lawyer she has expressed ignorance about 150,000 euros in cash found in her Belgian residence. Her Italian boyfriend, Francesco Giorgi, a parliamentary aide, has reportedly made a confession to Belgian prosecutors, which also alleges Moroccan involvement. Qatar has denied any wrongdoing in the case, which is still being investigated by Belgian authorities.