Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for January 21, 2023

Newsline: Pakistan summons Iran ambassador over cross-border attack

The Foreign Office summoned the Iranian ambassador to lodge the formal protest over an attack on the Pakistani security forces from across the border in Balochistan in a rare move, suggesting friction between the two countries. The Foreign Office did not issue any official statement on the development but sources confirmed to The Express Tribune that the envoy was summoned to express “Pakistan’s grave concern over the terrorist attack from inside the Iranian territory in which four Pakistani security personnel embraced martyrdom.” The ambassador was conveyed Pakistan’s expectation that the government of Iran would swiftly bring the perpetrators of the terrorist attack to justice and to prevent recurrence of such incidents, according to a source. “Pakistan remains committed to work with Iran in combatting the common threat posed by the menace of terrorism,” the source maintained. (https://tribune.com.pk/story/2396794/iran-ambassador-summoned-over-cross-border-attack) According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement, four security personnel died in Chukab Sector of the Pakistan-Iran border. It is rare that Pakistan publically protested with Iran as usually it treads carefully despite incidents in the past. But the summoning of the Iranian ambassador coupled with a categorical statement by the Army suggested that Pakistan was running out of patience with the neighbouring country.

Newsline: Colombian intelligence reportedly spied on Russian and Cuban diplomats

Colombian intelligence carried out OUT surveillance operations against Russian and Cuban diplomats stationed in Colombia between 2016 and 2019, according to media reports that surfaced earlier this week. The reports claim that Colombia’s National Intelligence Directorate (DNI) was behind the operations, which involved physical, as well as electronic, surveillance. (https://intelnews.org/tag/russian-embassy-in-colombia/) One of the operations was reportedly codenamed CATEDRA, and targeted three senior staff members of the Russian embassy in the Colombian capital Bogota. In addition to the diplomats themselves, DNI agents allegedly spied on the diplomats’ spouses and their children. In some cases, DNI agents disguised themselves as “street vendors” in order to spy on the homes of the diplomats. The DNI also spied on at least 10 Cuban diplomats and other members of the embassy of Cuba in Bogota, according to the same reports. The operation, codenamed MATIAS, investigated alleged “Cuban interference” in Colombia, and took place while the Cuban government was hosting peace talks between the Colombian government of then-president Juan Manuel Santos and leaders of the country’s largest militant groups, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). According to the reports, the DNI recruited a Cuban embassy worker, instructing her to “install [surveillance] devices and extract information from the building where control targets [were] located”. This eventually enabled the DNI to gain “access to security cameras and rooms throughout the building” of the Cuban embassy, the reports claim. Operations MATIAS and CATEDRA were reportedly concluded in 2019.

Newsline: Turkey summons Swedish ambassador

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned Sweden’s ambassador on Friday over authorities’ permission of a protest near the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm scheduled to be held on Saturday, a source from the Foreign Ministry said. The source said the Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the “provocative” protest, which they said includes burning of the Muslim holy book the Koran, and conveyed Ankara’s expectation for reversal of the permission for the demonstration. The Foreign Ministry also told Sweden’s envoy that granting permission to a separate protest that is to be staged on Saturday by a group sympathetic to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is a violation of agreements between the countries, the source said. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/turkey-summons-swedish-envoy-over-permission-protest-source-2023-01-20/) The incident comes at a sensitive time in bilateral relations when both Sweden and Finland are seeking Turkey’s approval of their bids to join NATO.