Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for March 6, 2023

Newsline: Iranian foreign ministry eyes prisoner swap with Belgium

Iranian foreign ministry said on Monday that it was open to a prisoner swap with Belgium after the latter’s Constitutional Court upheld an exchange treaty in a case that could see a convicted Iranian diplomat switched for a jailed Belgian aid worker. An Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson said the way was now open to execute the prisoner exchange pact. “With the recent development, we hope to see an opening in connection with the case of this diplomat,” the spokesperson said. (https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2023-03-06/iran-open-to-prisoner-swap-with-belgium) Aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele was arrested on a visit to Iran in February 2022 and sentenced in January to 40 years in prison and 74 lashes on charges including spying. Brussels called that retribution for a 20-year jail term given to Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi in 2021 over a foiled bomb plot in the first trial of an Iranian official for suspected terrorism in Europe since Iran’s 1979 revolution. Belgian lawmakers cleared the treaty in July but it was held up by legal challenges from an exiled Iranian opposition group.

Newsline: Singapore Top Diplomat Says ‘Peace Dividend’ Is Over

Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said growing defense spending, including by China and across Asia, is evidence a peace dividend after World War II that fueled global economic growth is largely over. “The last seven, eight decades of the peace dividend after the Second World War is over, and you’re going to see increased defense expenditure literally all over the world,” he said on Monday in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Haslinda Amin. “Certainly in the case of Europe, America still spends more than anyone else, several times more than even China.” (https://news.yahoo.com/singapore-top-diplomat-says-peace-022357124.html) Southeast Asia has grown more vocal over the prospect of a conflict in Asia amid fierce competition between the US and China, as Russia’s war in Ukraine further sours ties between global powers. The region’s concerns lie in the brewing tensions over Taiwan, and China’s military assertiveness in the disputed South China Sea.

Newsline: US embassy says FBI searching for 4 citizens kidnapped in Mexico

The FBI is searching for four U.S. citizens who have been kidnapped in Mexico, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said Sunday. The American citizens crossed into Matamoros, in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas just south of Brownsville, Texas, in a white minivan with North Carolina plates on Friday, the embassy said. “Shortly after crossing into Mexico, unidentified gunmen shot the passengers of the vehicle. The gunmen herded the four U.S. citizens into another vehicle and fled the scene with them,” according to the embassy. (https://abc7ny.com/fbi-searching-for-4-us-citizens-kidnapped-in-mexico-embassy-says/12918955/) The FBI is now asking for the public’s help in identifying who might be responsible and is offering a $50,000 reward, the embassy said.