Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 10, 2023

Newsline: Iran and Saudi Arabia re-open embassies

Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed on Friday to re-establish relations after seven years of hostility. The deal was announced after four days of previously undisclosed talks in Beijing between top security officials from the two rival Middle East powers. Tehran and Riyadh agreed “to resume diplomatic relations between them and re-open their embassies and missions within a period not exceeding two months”, according to a statement issued by Iran, Saudi Arabia and China. “The agreement includes their affirmation of the respect for the sovereignty of states and the non-interference in internal affairs.” (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/iran-saudi-arabia-agree-resume-ties-re-open-embassies-iranian-state-media-2023-03-10/) Both countries thanked China, as well as Iraq and Oman for hosting earlier talks in 2021 and 2022. The agreement was signed by Iran’s top security official, Ali Shamkhani, and Saudi Arabia’s national security adviser Musaed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban. China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran in 2016 after its embassy in Tehran was stormed during a dispute between the two countries over Riyadh’s execution of a Shi’ite Muslim cleric.

Newsline: Poland summons U.S. ambassador

The Polish Foreign Ministry summoned the U.S. envoy about the actions of a television station, it said in a statement without naming the station or specifying what it believes it did wrong. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recognizes that the potential effects of these actions are identical to the goals of the hybrid war aimed at leading to divisions and tensions in Polish society,” the ministry said in a statement. “Therefore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the U.S. Ambassador to inform him about the situation and its consequences in weakening the ability of the Republic of Poland to deter a potential adversary and its resistance to threats.” (https://neuters.de/world/poland-summons-us-envoy-over-tv-stations-unspecified-actions-2023-03-09/) Poland has previously been at odds with the United States over Discovery-owned news channel TVN24, which is critical of the government. TVN24 recently contributed to stirring a heated debate in Poland by airing a documentary alleging late John Paul II knew about sexual abuses by Catholic clergy before becoming pope. It was not immediately clear if the issue the U.S. ambassador was summoned over concerned TVN24. The U.S. embassy in Warsaw had no immediate comment. A Polish foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment further.

Newsline: Pacific’s Micronesia mulls switching diplomatic ties from Beijing to Taiwan

The Federated States of Micronesia held talks with Taiwan in February about switching diplomatic ties for $50 million in assistance after growing frustrated at China, the outgoing president of the Pacific island nation has said in a letter. Tensions between the United States and China for security influence in the Pacific islands are rising, and FSM President David Panuelo was a prominent critic of China’s attempt to strike a 10-nation security and trade pact. Panuelo lost his seat in Tuesday’s national poll, election officials confirmed. In a letter sent to state governors viewed by Reuters, Panuelo said he met with Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu in February to discuss switching diplomatic recognition. “I was transparent with Foreign Minister Wu; we project we need an injection of approximately $50,000,000 to meet our future needs. We can and will receive this, over a three year period, if and when we establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan,” he wrote. “Taiwan assures me that they will simply ‘pick up’ any and all projects that China is currently undertaking.” (https://neuters.de/world/pacifics-micronesia-talks-switch-ties-beijing-taiwan-letter-2023-03-10/) The aid would come on top of “greatly added layers of security and protection that come with our country distancing itself from the PRC, which has demonstrated a keen capability to undermine our sovereignty, reject our values, and uses our elected and senior officials for their own purposes,” he added. An interim $15 million annual assistance package was also offered, he wrote. A spokesperson from the FSM president’s office declined to comment and Taiwan’s foreign ministry said it was working on a statement.

Newsline: Chinese embassy in Ottawa silent on ‘police stations’ in Montreal

Canadian Police said on Thursday they are investigating allegations that two Montreal-area centers are being used as Chinese state-backed “police stations” to intimidate or harass Canadians of Chinese origin. The Chinese embassy in Ottawa did not respond to a request for comment. It has previously said that there are centers outside China run by local volunteers, not Chinese police officers, that aim to help Chinese citizens renew documents and offer other services disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We are carrying out police actions aimed at detecting and disrupting these foreign state-backed criminal activities, which may threaten the safety of persons living in Canada,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Quebec said in a statement. (https://neuters.de/world/americas/canada-police-probe-alleged-chinese-police-stations-montreal-2023-03-09/) In November, the RCMP also launched an investigation into similar reports of Chinese “police service stations” in the Toronto area. The RCMP in Ontario did not respond to a request for information on that probe on Thursday. The investigation adds to mounting allegations of Chinese interference in Canada’s internal affairs, including accusations by Ottawa that Beijing tried to influence the last two Canadian elections. China has denied those accusations. Countries including the United States and the Netherlands have conducted similar probes following a report in September by Safeguard Defenders, a Europe-based human rights organization, detailing the presence of dozens of Chinese police “service stations” in major cities globally.