Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for February 3, 2023

Newsline: U.S. top diplomat postpones China visit over spy balloon

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken postponed a visit to China that had been expected to start on Friday after a Chinese spy balloon was tracked flying across the United States in what U.S. officials called a “clear violation” of U.S. sovereignty. “After consultations with our interagency partners as well as with Congress, we have concluded that the conditions are not right at this moment for Secretary Blinken to travel to China,” a senior State Department official told reporters. “We have noted the PRC (People’s Republic of China) statement of regret, but the presence of this balloon in our airspace is a clear violation of our sovereignty as well as international law, and it is unacceptable that this has occurred,” the official said. “The secretary conveyed to the director of the Central Foreign Affairs Office Wang Yi earlier this morning, that the trip would need to be postponed. But the secretary indicated that he would plan to travel to the PRC at the earliest opportunity when conditions allow.” (https://neuters.de/world/china-expresses-regret-that-civilian-airship-strays-over-us-2023-02-03/) ABC News earlier cited an U.S. official as saying Blinken did not want to blow the situation out of proportion by canceling his visit, but also did not want the balloon incident to dominate his meetings with Chinese officials. China expressed regret that a “civilian” airship had strayed into U.S. territory after being blown off course.

Newsline: Turkey’s top diplomat says Western missions failed to justify security warnings

Turkey said on Friday that Western nations, including the United States and Germany, had not given it any information to back up their assertions that security threats had prompted them to close their missions in the country. Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu suggested the powers may have been trying to portray Turkey as a volatile state when they temporarily shut embassies and consulates and issued travel warnings following Koran-burning incidents in Europe. “We see the closures of consulates without sharing the details of the information with us as intentional,” Cavusoglu told reporters. “They say there is a terror threat… But when we ask what the source of information was and who the perpetrators of such attacks might be, they did not share any information,” Cavusoglu said on Friday. Turkey would take “some additional steps” in case these countries shut their diplomatic missions again without sharing information with Turkey, Cavusoglu also said. (https://uk.investing.com/news/world-news/turkey-says-western-states-gave-it-no-evidence-to-back-up-security-threat-reports-2902878) On Wednesday Turkey summoned the ambassadors of nine Western countries to criticise the decision, as interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, said on Twitter the embassies were waging “a new psychological war” on his country. Last week, France, Germany, Italy, the United States and others issued warnings to their citizens of an increased risk of attacks in Turkey, particularly against diplomatic missions and non-Muslim places of worship, in the wake of Koran-burning protests in Europe. This week, countries including Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland temporarily closed diplomatic missions in Turkey, saying it was for security reasons.

Newsline: U.S. calls on Sudan to reverse ruling freeing convict in U.S. diplomat’s killing

The United States on Thursday called on the Sudanese government to use all available legal means to reverse a decision this week to release a Sudanese man facing the death penalty in the killing of a U.S. diplomat in 2008. Abdelraouf Abuzeid was found guilty, along with others, in the killing of American John Granville and a Sudanese colleague, who both worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development and were killed by gunmen in Khartoum. “We call on the Sudanese government to exercise all available legal means to reverse this decision and to re-arrest Abuzeid,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters. Officials met with the Sudanese ambassador to the United States on Thursday and the U.S. ambassador to Sudan, John Godfrey, is engaging Sudanese officials at the highest levels on the issue, Price said. Peter Lord, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Africa, Sudan and South Sudan will also take up the issue and demand action when he travels to Khartoum next week, Price said. “We will not relent,” Price said. (https://neuters.de/world/us-calls-reversal-decision-release-sudanese-man-found-guilty-killing-diplomat-2023-02-02/) Abuzeid’s brother said on Monday that his sibling was released by Sudan’s high court based on a multimillion dollar 2020 settlement between Sudan and victims of attacks including the one that killed Granville.

Newsline: Chad opens embassy in Israel

Chad will open an embassy in Israel, four years after the countries restored diplomatic relations, Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office said. (https://news.yahoo.com/african-state-chad-open-embassy-150423737.html) Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the embassy was inaugurated on Thursday as part of Chadian President Mahamat Deby’s state visit to Israel. Netanyahu visited the central African state in January 2019 as part of Israel’s push to establish diplomatic ties with Muslim states. The following year Israel signed normalization agreements with Morocco, Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates as part of the U.S.-brokered “Abraham Accords.”