Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for February 22, 2023

Newsline: Germany expels two Iranian embassy employees

Germany has declared two employees of the Iranian embassy personae non gratae and ordered them to leave the country in response to Iran sentencing a German national to death, a statement from the foreign office said on Wednesday. Germany summoned Iran’s charge d’affaires, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement, adding: “He was informed that we do not accept the massive violation of the rights of a German citizen.” “We call on Iran to revoke Jamshid Sharmahd’s death sentence and provide him with a fair appeal process based on the rule of law,” she added. (https://neuters.de/world/germany-expels-two-iranian-embassy-employees-over-death-sentence-2023-02-22/) German Chancellor Olaf Scholz condemned the sentence as unacceptable, calling on Iran to reverse the ruling. “The Iranian regime fights its own people in every possible way and disregards human rights,” Scholz wrote on Twitter. Sharmahd, a German-Iranian national, was sentenced to death on charges of “corruption on earth”, the judiciary’s Mizan news agency reported on Tuesday. The verdict can be appealed. A foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday that the consulate was working to provide further support to the dual national and was in touch with the man’s relatives. “We will continue to provide consular support to the extent that this is possible. I have already explained how difficult this is in Iran,” the spokesperson said. “This is a first instance verdict and we will follow the progress of the situation,” he added. Iran accuses Sharmahd, who also has U.S. residency, of heading a pro-monarchist group accused of a deadly 2008 bombing and planning other attacks in the country.

Newsline: China’s top diplomat pledges to strengthen ties with Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin said relations between his country and China are “reaching new milestones” as Beijing’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, wrapped up a visit to Moscow on Wednesday. “Russian-Chinese relations are developing as we planned in previous years. Everything is moving forward and developing,” Putin told reporters as he sat beside Wang. “Cooperation in the international arena between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, as we have repeatedly said, is very important for stabilizing the international situation.” Wang added that the two countries “often face crisis and chaos, but there are always opportunities in a crisis.” “This requires us to identify changes more voluntarily and respond to the changes more actively to further strengthen our comprehensive strategic partnership,” Wang said. (https://lite.cnn.com/2023/02/22/china/china-wang-yi-moscow-ukraine-intl-hnk) In December 2022, Putin and Xi Jinping held a virtual meeting in which the Russian leader described relations between the two nations as “the best in history,” saying they could “withstand all tests,” and invited Xi to visit Moscow in the spring of 2023.

Newsline: India reluctant to discuss new G20 sanctions on Russia

India does not want the Group of 20 nations to discuss additional sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine during New Delhi’s one-year presidency of the bloc, six senior Indian government officials told Reuters. On the sidelines of a key G20 gathering in India, financial leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations will meet on Feb. 23, the eve of the first anniversary of the invasion, to discuss measures against Russia, Japan’s finance minister said on Tuesday. The officials, who are directly involved in this week’s G20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs, said the war’s macroeconomic impact would be discussed but India does not want to deliberate on additional actions against Russia. “India is not keen to discuss or back any additional sanctions on Russia during the G20,” said one of the officials. “The existing sanctions on Russia have had a negative impact on the world.” Another official said sanctions were not a G20 issue. “G20 is an economic forum for discussing growth issues.” (https://neuters.de/world/host-india-does-not-want-g20-discuss-more-sanctions-russia-sources-2023-02-22/) Spokespeople for the Indian government and the finance and foreign ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar has previously said the war has disproportionately affected poorer countries by raising prices of fuel and food. India’s neighbours – Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh – have all sought loans from the International Monetary Fund in recent months to tide over economic troubles brought about by the pandemic and the war.