Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 29, 2023

Newsline: Sweden summons Russia’s ambassador

Sweden’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday it will summon Russia’s Stockholm ambassador to complain about an “attempt at interference” with the Swedish NATO application process. The Russian ambassador in a statement on the embassy’s web site said joining NATO made the Nordic countries “a legitimate target for Russian retaliatory measures, including those of a military nature”. A Swedish foreign ministry spokesperson told Reuters the ambassador would be summoned. “The foreign ministry is summoning the Russian ambassador to protest this obvious attempt at interference,” Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom separately told news agency TT. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/sweden-summons-russias-ambassador-over-legitimate-target-statement-2023-03-29/) Sweden and Finland in 2022 both sought NATO membership and are hoping to complete the process this year.

Newsline: Israel to join U.S. Visa Waiver Programme in September

Israel expects to join the U.S. Visa Waiver Programme in September, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday, after Israeli legislation of measures required by Washington. The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem had no immediate comment on Netanyahu’s announcement, which came as tensions spiked between the allies over a contested Israeli judicial overhaul plan. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/netanyahu-sees-israel-joining-us-visa-waiver-programme-september-2023-03-29/) The embassy said on Jan. 30 that Israel met its requirement of being below the 3% non-immigrant refusal rate – a reference to the number of applicants turned away due to faulty paperwork. Before Netanyahu’s announcement, his national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, said on Twitter that parliament was due to ratify the last of four bills “that will advance us toward getting the U.S. visa waiver for the citizens of Israel”. That appeared to refer to the Knesset plenum’s approval in final readings on Wednesday of a law setting up a new national immigration database linked with airline passenger manifests. Washington had previously called for greater access to databases in Israel about its travelers to the United States. It was not immediately clear whether Israel met another U.S. condition for the visa waiver – free passage for Palestinian-Americans at its airports and into the occupied West Bank.

Newsline: China’s top diplomat spoke with White House’s senior official

China’s top diplomat Wang Yi spoke with White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday. (https://neuters.de/world/white-houses-sullivan-speaks-with-chinas-top-diplomat-wang-yi-bloomberg-2023-03-28/) The news agency cited people familiar with the matter without providing further detail.

Newsline: Bahrain summons Iraq’s envoy

Bahrain’s foreign ministry has summoned Iraq’s Chargé d’Affaires Moayad Omar Abdul Rahman for breaching diplomatic norms, the Bahrain state news agency said. State media also reported that Rahman was handed an official note of protest for “(his) interference in the Kingdom’s internal affairs,” without providing further details. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/bahrain-summons-iraqs-charge-daffaires-violating-diplomatic-norms-state-media-2023-03-28/) A few hours after the statement was released, the Iraqi foreign ministry said it was returning Abdul Rahman to Baghdad where he will be stationed at the foreign ministry headquarters. “The reason behind this decision is to boost the legacy of the Iraqi diplomacy and to conserve diplomatic norms” an official spokesperson for the Iraqi government said.