Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 31, 2023

Newsline: U.S. State Department confirms two citizens kidnapped in Haiti

Two U.S. citizens have been kidnapped in Haiti, State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel confirmed on Thursday, adding that Washington is in regular contact with Haitian authorities and will continue to work with them. Patel declined to provide further details. CNN reported last week that a Florida couple, Abigail and Jean-Dickens Toussaint, had been kidnapped on March 18 in Haiti and were being held captive under ransom demands. The couple went to Haiti to visit family and to attend a festival but were kidnapped on their bus ride from Port-au-Prince, CNN reported, citing a woman claiming to be the victims’ niece. (https://neuters.de/world/state-department-confirms-two-us-citizens-kidnapped-haiti-2023-03-30/) Gangs in Haiti have grown in strength since the 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, with large portions of the capital and much of the countryside considered lawless territory.

Newsline: U.S. eyes ‘Cold War’-era crisis diplomacy with China

Efforts to build a floor under U.S.-China relations have yet to be successful and coming months will determine if it is possible to reestablish constructive diplomacy with Beijing, a top White House official said on Thursday, stressing the need for “Cold War”-era hotlines and other crisis mechanisms. Speaking at a time of heightened tensions with China over a U.S. stopover by Taiwan’s president, U.S. Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said Washington had made clear to Beijing it was ready to have another call between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping. “We’re prepared and, from our perspective, we want to keep lines of communication open and it is our intention to keep those lines open,” he said at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) think tank. Campbell said the Chinese had been “reluctant to engage in discussions around confidence-building or crisis communications, or hotlines” and it would be a “responsible step” to have such mechanisms, given that Chinese and U.S. military forces operated in proximity to each other. “We built those during the Cold War. We think that they’re appropriate now,” he added. (https://neuters.de/world/efforts-build-floor-under-us-china-relations-not-yet-successful-us-official-2023-03-30/) Campbell said the U.S. was in the early stages of a new phase of competitive relations with China.

Newsline: Philippine top diplomat says Manila, Beijing to resume talks in May

The Philippines and China will resume discussions about jointly exploring oil and gas resources in the South China Sea in May, the Philippines’ foreign minister said. “They were proposing that we begin talks again on oil and gas. I think we will begin in maybe around six weeks but…at a technical level,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said in an interview with local network GMA News. Excerpts of Manalo’s interview were shared with the media by the Philippines Foreign Ministry. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/manila-beijing-resume-oil-gas-talks-may-philippine-minister-2023-03-30/) China claims jurisdiction over almost the entire South China Sea and the risk of disruption has made it difficult for the Philippines to find foreign investors, despite an arbitration court clarifying Manila’s entitlements in the sea. Efforts to find a legally viable way to cooperate on energy exploration have stalled repeatedly, with the administration of Marcos’ predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, abandoning talks last June citing constitutional constraints and issues of sovereignty. The resumption comes on the heels of the first in-person meeting between diplomats from Manila and Beijing since before the pandemic, where they pledged to use diplomacy to resolve differences peacefully.