Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for January 6, 2023

Newsline: Former U.S. ambassador to Russia rejoins law firm

John Sullivan, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Trump and Biden administrations, has rejoined law firm Mayer Brown to co-lead its national security practice. Sullivan, who was also a top U.S. State Department official under then-President Donald Trump and at one point served as acting Secretary of State, is now a partner at the 1,700-lawyer Mayer Brown, the firm said. (https://neuters.de/legal/government/former-russian-ambassador-rejoins-mayer-brown-law-firm-2023-01-05/) Sullivan exited his diplomatic role in Moscow in September. He said Mayer Brown was the only firm he seriously considered joining, after previously practicing there on and off since 1993. He will be based out of the Chicago-founded firm’s Washington, D.C., and New York offices, but said he plans to mainly work in D.C.

Newsline: France supports its Burkina Faso ambassador despite withdrawal request

France continues to back its envoy in Burkina Faso despite a request by the Burkinabe government to replace him amid growing anti-French sentiment, Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said on Thursday. “I would like to express my support and our support for our ambassador and for all the embassy staff, who are doing a remarkable job in conditions which, as you know, are difficult,” Colonna told LCI TV, adding that the letter had requested a change in envoy. (https://neuters.de/world/french-foreign-minister-we-support-our-ambassador-burkina-faso-2023-01-05/) Relations between France and Burkina, a former French colony in West Africa, have deteriorated after repeated military coups. In December, the Ouagadougou government sent a letter requesting the departure of France’s ambassador – a move the French government described as “not standard practice.”

Newsline: North Korea said to purge ex-foreign minister

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has purged a former foreign minister who played an instrumental role in his summits with former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018-19, South Korean lawmakers said, citing intelligence officials. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service told lawmakers that Ri has been purged but it was unclear whether he was executed, said Yoo Sang-bum, a member of the parliamentary intelligence committee. Yoo said the agency did not explain why Ri was purged, and the lawmakers could not confirm the Yomiuri report that also said a few other diplomats who had worked at the North Korean Embassy in Britain were also executed. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/north-koreas-kim-purges-ex-foreign-minister-south-korean-lawmakers-say-2023-01-05/) Ri Yong Ho has remained out of the public eye since denuclerisation talks with Washington stalled following a failed summit in early 2019 in Vietnam between Kim and Trump, but Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun reported on Wednesday that he was executed last year, citing unnamed sources. Ri was last mentioned in North Korean state media in April 2020, when he was removed from the State Affairs Commission, a top decision-making body chaired by Kim. He was sacked from the top diplomat job months earlier. A soft-spoken, career diplomat with years of experience in nuclear negotiations, Ri accompanied Kim to both Singapore and Hanoi for summits with Trump in 2018 and 2019, respectively.