Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for January 9, 2023

Newsline: U.S. visa of former Brazilian president may be revoked

The United States has a Jair Bolsonaro problem. The far-right former Brazilian president flew to Florida two days before his term ended on Jan. 1, having challenged the Oct. 30 election he lost to leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. But Bolsonaro left behind a violent movement of election-denying supporters, who on Sunday stormed Brazil’s presidential palace, Congress and Supreme Court. A U.S. consular official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Bolsonaro had almost certainly entered on an A-1 visa, which are reserved for heads of state. Normally the A-1 is canceled after the recipient leaves office. But with Bolsonaro having left Brazil and entered the United States before his term ended, the official suspected his A-1 is still active. The official, who has experience with the cancellation of visas for former heads of state, said there is no set time limit on how long someone can stay in the United States on an A-1. “We’re in uncharted territory,” the official said. John Feeley, who was the U.S. ambassador to Panama from 2016-2018 when the Central American nation sought the extradition of its former President Ricardo Martinelli, said the most immediate threat to Bolsonaro would come if his U.S. visa were revoked. “The United States – or any sovereign nation for that matter – may remove a foreigner, even one who entered legally on a visa, for any reason,” Feeley said. “It’s a purely sovereign decision for which no legal justification is required.” (https://neuters.de/world/americas/bolsonaros-florida-stay-puts-ball-bidens-court-after-brasilia-riots-2023-01-09/) A State Department spokesperson said “visa records are confidential under U.S. law; therefore, we cannot discuss the details of individual visa cases.”

Newsline: China ‘wolf warrior’ diplomatic spokesperson gets new post

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, who gained prominence as one of China’s most outspoken “wolf warrior” diplomats, has been transferred to its department that manages land and sea borders, according to the ministry’s website. Zhao, 50, is now deputy head of the ministry’s Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs, the website showed on Monday. Zhao became a ministry spokesperson in 2020 after stints in China’s embassy in Pakistan, where he built a large following on Twitter as well as on Chinese social media for his frequent and often combative posts, many targeted at the United States. His hawkish style made him the most prominent practitioner of what widely became known as “wolf warrior” diplomacy – named after a popular Chinese movie franchise – which marked a departure from the restraint that had long characterised Beijing’s engagement with the world. In a controversial Twitter post in March 2020, Zhao wrote that the U.S. military might have brought the coronavirus to the Chinese city of Wuhan. (https://neuters.de/world/china/china-wolf-warrior-diplomatic-spokesperson-zhao-moves-new-role-2023-01-09/) Zhao, who often hosted the ministry’s daily media briefing, has 1.9 million Twitter followers.

Newsline: Denmark and Belgium to summon Iranian ambassadors over executions

Denmark and Belgium said they would summon Iran’s ambassadors after Tehran executed two men linked to protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, with fresh EU sanctions “on the table”. The announcements came shortly after fellow EU nation the Netherlands announced similar action. Iran’s envoy to Denmark will be summoned “to send him the strongest possible and imaginable message that the abuses committed against his people trigger our outrage”, Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen told news agency Ritzau. The Danish foreign ministry confirmed to AFP that the meeting would take place on Monday. (https://www.thelocal.dk/20230109/denmark-to-summon-iranian-ambassador-over-executions/) Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib wrote on Twitter that she was “horrified” by the executions. “Together with like-minded EU member states, we will summon the Iranian ambassador. New EU sanctions are on the table,” she said.