Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 8, 2023

Newsline: Former top U.S. diplomats call to end diplomacy with Iran

Dozens of former top U.S. diplomats formally called on President Biden to cease all diplomacy with Iran on Monday. The diplomats’ call comes on the fifth anniversary of former President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal signed under former President Barack Obama. The letter argues that Biden’s current strategy of offering sanctions relief in return for good behavior is dangerous because it “depends not on leverage from the United States but rather on the preferences of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” “Today, we write to urge you and your team to stop all diplomatic overtures toward the Islamic Republic of Iran and instead reimpose the ‘maximum pressure’ campaign – the only effective policy to protect the American people, the Iranian people, and others in the region and around the world from the Islamic Republic’s threats,” the group wrote. “The United States should never preemptively set the negotiating table with concessions, not least with an adversary with four decades of rhetoric and actions targeting the United States and the American people. The approach of preemptively offering sanctions relief and that trust in the regime is entirely misplaced and reckless given the regime’s record of lying about its nuclear program,” they continued. (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/dozens-top-us-diplomats-urge-biden-cease-all-diplomacy-iran) The signees of the letter include former U.S. ambassadors to countries across the globe and to international organizations, as well as multiple former members of Congress.

Newsline: ASEAN diplomats, relief convoy attacked in Myanmar

A convoy including diplomats representing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on a mission to provide humanitarian assistance to displaced people in strife-torn Myanmar has been ambushed, state media and a member of an ethnic minority militia said Monday. State-run television MRTV reported that the attack on the convoy with delegates from the ASEAN Coordinating Center for Humanitarian Assistance and the Indonesian and Singaporean embassies occurred Sunday in eastern Shan state and was carried out by “terrorists.” The report did not say which organization the “terrorists” were from. The military government uses the term “terrorists” for a wide range of forces opposed to military rule. The report said the gunmen opened fire with small arms and the security team accompanying the convoy returned fire. A security vehicle was damaged, but no one in the convoy was injured, it said. (https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/asean-relief-convoy-attacked-in-myanmar-no-casualties/) The “heinous” attack made it more difficult for displaced people as the government tries to improve relations with other countries to alleviate the situation, the report said. MRTV said the government is cooperating in providing humanitarian assistance under a Five Point Consensus reached by ASEAN in 2021 in an effort to help restore peace in Myanmar after the army seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in February 2021. The military government has not implemented most parts of the consensus, which calls for an immediate end to violence in Myanmar, dialogue among all parties, the appointment of a special envoy, humanitarian assistance by ASEAN, and a visit by the special envoy to Myanmar to meet with all parties. Its failure to carry out the agreement has caused ASEAN to bar Myanmar’s military leaders from its top-level meetings.

Newsline: China’s top diplomat tells U.S. ambassador Sino-US relations need to be stabilised

China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang said on Monday it is imperative to stabilise Sino-U.S. relations after a series of “erroneous words and deeds” threw ties back into a deep freeze. Qin, in a meeting in Beijing with U.S. ambassador Nicholas Burns, stressed in particular that the United States must correct its handling of the Taiwan issue and stop the hollowing out of the “one China” principle. “A series of erroneous words and deeds by the United States since then have undermined the hard-won positive momentum of Sino-U.S. relations,” Qin told Burns, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement. “The agenda of dialogue and cooperation agreed by the two sides has been disrupted, and the relationship between the two countries has once again encountered cold ice.” (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/china-foreign-minister-says-imperative-stabilise-sino-us-relations-2023-05-08/) The relationship between the world’s two biggest economies sank to a low last year when then speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi paid an official visit to democratically governed Taiwan, angering China, which claims the island as its territory. In response, Beijing severed formal communications channels with the United States including one between their militaries. The tension between the two superpowers eased in November when U.S. and Chinese leaders Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met at a G20 summit in Indonesia and pledged more frequent dialogue. Tensions flared in February when a Chinese high-altitude balloon appeared in U.S. airspace and in response U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken cancelled a visit to Beijing.