Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for April, 2023

Newsline: Sudanese stuck as passports locked in evacuated Western embassies

Hundreds of Sudanese visa applicants – maybe even thousands – now trapped in war zones after Western diplomats evacuated the country without returning their passports. Diplomats or civil servants from countries such as England, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain have since washed their hands of responsibility or failed to find adequate solutions, lawyers and those stranded told Al Jazeera. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/4/29/sudanese-stuck-as-passports-locked-in-abandoned-western-embassies) Sudanese nationals, whose passports are locked up in evacuated Western embassies in Khartoum, said some Western civil servants told them to apply for a new one from local authorities. However, Sudan’s de facto authorities are embroiled in an armed conflict that has killed more than 500 people and displaced tens of thousands to neighbouring countries such as Egypt, Chad, South Sudan and Djibouti. Egypt, which is about 900km (430 miles) from Khartoum, is the closest and only viable escape route for many, but those without passports are not allowed in.

Newsline: Iran, Saudi Arabia to reopen embassies ‘within days’

Saudi Arabia and Iran will reopen embassies in each other’s capitals “within days,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said in a sign of warming relations after the two countries closed their missions seven years ago. Speaking at a news conference in the Lebanese capital Beirut, Amirabdollahian did not give specific dates for the reopening of the embassies, which closed in 2016. “During the last phone call between the foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia on Eid al-Fitr, we agreed to work in the next coming days on the reopening of the Iranian and Saudi embassies in Tehran and Riyadh,” Amirabdollahian said, according to an official Arabic translation. (https://news.yahoo.com/iran-foreign-minister-says-embassies-155217036.html) The regional rivals agreed last month to restore diplomatic relations under a deal brokered by China.

Newsline: Russia promises harsh response after Polish ‘seizure’ of embassy school

Russia on Saturday pledged to respond harshly to what it said was Poland’s illegal seizure of its embassy school in Warsaw, an act it called a flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. Polish state-run news channel TVP Info had earlier reported that police had showed up outside the Russian embassy school on Kieleckiej street in Warsaw on Saturday morning. When asked about the incident, a Polish foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters the building housing the embassy school belonged to the Polish state. Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the Polish authorities had burst onto the embassy school’s grounds with the aim of seizing it. “We regard this latest hostile act by the Polish authorities as a blatant violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and as an encroachment on Russian diplomatic property in Poland,” the ministry said. “Such an insolent step by Warsaw, which goes beyond the framework of civilised inter-state relations, will not remain without a harsh reaction and consequences for the Polish authorities and Polish interests in Russia,” it said. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/russia-lodge-official-protest-over-seizure-embassy-school-warsaw-2023-04-29/) Lukasz Jasina, a Polish foreign ministry spokesman, told Reuters that it was Russia’s right to protest but that Poland was acting within the law. Sergei Andreyev, Moscow’s ambassador to Poland, had earlier told Russian state news agencies that the building housing the embassy school was a diplomatic one which Polish authorities had no right to seize.

Newsline: UN special envoys meeting on Afghanistan to be held without Taliban

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has not invited the Taliban administration to a meeting that he is convening with special envoys on Afghanistan from various countries in Doha next week, a U.N. spokesperson said on Friday. “The Secretary-General has not extended an invitation to the de facto authorities,” said U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric. The gathering in Qatar on Monday and Tuesday is instead intended to focus on reinvigorating “the international engagement around common objectives for a durable way forward on … Afghanistan,” Dujarric has said. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/taliban-not-invited-un-doha-meeting-afghanistan-says-un-2023-04-28/) Last week the United Nations had to stress that the meeting will not focus on the possible international recognition of the Taliban administration after comments by the deputy U.N. chief sparked concern and confusion. Guterres’ deputy, Amina Mohammed, had suggested last week that the meeting in Doha “could find those baby steps to put us back on the pathway to recognition.” In December, the 193-member U.N. General Assembly approved postponing, for the second time, a decision on whether to recognize the Afghan Taliban administration by allowing them to send a United Nations ambassador to New York.

Newsline: Japan eyes top level diplomacy with South Korea

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to visit South Korea in coming weeks and meet with President Yoon Suk Yeol, officials said, reciprocating a Tokyo visit by the South Korean leader last month. A Japanese government official and another official from a Group of Seven government said the meeting was expected before Kishida hosts a G7 summit from May 19. Japan’s Kyodo news agency said on Saturday the two will meet around May 7 or 8, citing multiple unnamed Japanese and South Korean diplomatic sources. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/japan-pm-kishida-visit-south-korea-summit-with-yoon-kyodo-2023-04-29/) Their aim will be to confirm the two neighbours’ strengthening of cooperation over North Korea ahead of the Hiroshima G7 summit, Kyodo said. Asked about reports of the bilateral summit, Kishida said in remarks broadcast by public network NHK that nothing concrete had been decided. An answering machine at Japan’s foreign ministry on Saturday said no one was available over the weekend.

Newsline: China’s foreign ministry summons South Korea’s envoy over joint statement with U.S.

China expressed “strong dissatisfaction” to South Korea over its joint statement with the United States about the need for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, a foreign ministry statement said on Friday. Department of Asian Affairs Director-General Liu Jinsong met with South Korean Embassy Minister Kang Sang-wook on Thursday evening to emphasise China’s stance on Taiwan and urged South Korea to strictly adhere to the “One-China” principle, the ministry said. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/china-lodges-serious-representations-with-skorea-over-joint-statement-with-us-2023-04-28/) South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is on a six-day visit to the United States, during which Yoon and President Joe Biden held talks that covered tensions between China and Taiwan and Chinese military activities in the South China Sea. In a South Korea-U.S. joint statement, the presidents stressed the need for peace in the Taiwan Strait and said they opposed “any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the Indo-Pacific, including through unlawful maritime claims, the militarization of reclaimed features, and coercive activities.”

Newsline: Belgium is examining Iran’s request to free jailed diplomat

The Belgian government is currently examining Iran’s request to transfer jailed Iranian diplomat Asadollah Assadi in exchange for jailed Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said in parliament. (https://neuters.de/world/belgium-is-looking-into-irans-request-free-jailed-diplomat-swap-pm-2023-04-27/) In March, Belgium’s Constitutional Court upheld a prisoner exchange treaty with Iran that could lead to Assadi being swapped for Vandecasteele. De Croo also said that Vandecasteele was being held hostage in Iran and repeated a call for his immediate release.

Newsline: Britain relocates ambassador from Sudan to Ethiopia

Britain said on Thursday that Giles Lever, its ambassador to Sudan, had been relocated to neighbouring Ethiopia after it temporarily closed its embassy in the conflict-riven east African country. “From Addis Ababa, he will lead the UK’s diplomatic efforts in the region to bring fighting to an end in Sudan,” the British foreign office said in a statement. (https://neuters.de/world/britain-relocates-its-sudanese-ambassador-ethiopia-2023-04-27/) Britain, which like other nations has been evacuating its nationals from Sudan, is urging the warring parties in the country to extend a 72-hour ceasefire which is due to expire later on Thursday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson said earlier.

Newsline: Tunisia appoints new ambassador to Syria

Tunisia’s President Kais Saied on Thursday appointed a new ambassador to Syria, the Tunisian presidency said in a statement, the latest Arab move to end Syria’s regional isolation. (https://neuters.de/world/tunisian-president-appoints-new-ambassador-syria-presidency-2023-04-27/) Tunisia cut off diplomatic relations with Syria nearly a decade ago to protest Assad’s crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011 that developed into civil war in which hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed and millions sent fleeing.

Newsline: Belgium denies deal to free jailed Iran diplomat

Belgium said an Iranian diplomat jailed there for 20 years will not soon be released in a prisoner swap. In March, Belgium’s Constitutional Court upheld a prisoner exchange treaty with Iran that could lead to Asadollah Assadi being swapped for jailed Belgian aid worker Olivier Vandecasteele. “Belgium has requested an exchange and so have we for our diplomat Asadollah Assadi. Following the necessary protocols, such an exchange will be done soon,” Iranian judiciary spokesperson Masoud Setayeshi said on Wednesday. But a spokesperson for Belgian Justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne denied a deal had been reached. “This is a false message from a rogue state that specialises in making false statements”, Van Quickenborne said to Belgian public broadcaster VTM. “They do this to manipulate and confuse an innocent compatriot and his family.” He also denied there would be a prison swap with another Belgian. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/iran-diplomat-jailed-belgium-be-freed-prisoner-swap-iran-judiciary-2023-04-26/) Last week, Belgium submitted a request to Iran that Vandecasteele be sent back to his country in accordance with the prisoner transfer treaty. Assadi was jailed for 20-years in 2021 over a 2018 foiled bomb plot targeting an Iranian opposition group in Paris. Vandecasteele was arrested on a visit to Iran in February 2022 and sentenced in January to 40 years in prison and 74 lashes on several charges including spying. Belgium repeatedly said there were no grounds for the detention of Vandecasteele, saying he was convicted “for a fabricated series of crimes” and in retribution for Assadi’s jailing.