Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 11, 2023

Newsline: US ambassador accuses South Africa of supplying arms to Russia

The US ambassador to South Africa has accused the country of supplying weapons to Russia despite its professed neutrality in the war in Ukraine. Reuben Brigety claimed that a Russian ship was loaded with ammunition and arms in Cape Town last December. Mr Brigety said at a media briefing in Pretoria on Thursday that Washington had concerns about the country’s stated non-aligned stance on the conflict. He referred to the docking of a cargo ship in the Simon’s Town naval base between 6 and 8 December last year which he was “confident” uploaded weapons and ammunition “as it made its way back to Russia”. The presence of the ship, the Lady R, had seemed curious at the time and raised questions from some local politicians. “The arming of the Russians is extremely serious, and we do not consider this issue to be resolved,” Mr Brigety said, in a damning accusation that seems to have caught South Africa’s officials off guard. (https://news.yahoo.com/us-ambassador-accuses-south-africa-151856297.html) President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office said it was disappointed by the claims and said no evidence has been provided to support them.

Newsline: China’s top diplomat had “candid” talks with US National Security Advisor

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi in Vienna this week, the White House said Thursday, seeking to maintain communication amid soaring tensions. Both sides described the meeting in carefully choreographed statements as “candid, substantive and constructive,” mirroring one another’s language in the tentative, high-level rapprochement. Topics discussed included the war in Ukraine and “cross-Strait issues,” according to the White House, referring to Taiwan, which has been the target of increasingly heated rhetoric from Beijing in recent months. Wang “comprehensively expounded upon China’s solemn position” on Taiwan, Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua said, adding the two diplomats “agreed to continue to make good use of this strategic channel for communication.” (https://news.yahoo.com/top-us-china-officials-meet-153017108.html) Washington and Beijing’s historically strained relationship has tightened further in recent months over commercial, political and military influence, particularly in the Pacific region.

Newsline: Diplomats not allowed to attend trial in China

Diplomats from several countries including the United States said on Thursday they were prevented from attending the subversion trial of rights activist and lawyer Guo Feixiong in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. “Today, U.S. diplomats were blocked from attending the court proceedings of Guo Feixiong, a lawyer who is facing trial in Guangzhou for his peaceful advocacy,” the U.S. Embassy in China said via its Twitter account on Thursday. “We continue to call for Mr. Guo’s speedy release so he may be reunited with his family.” (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/diplomats-turned-away-trial-prominent-activist-china-2023-05-11/) Diplomats from Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands and Britain were also turned away and told by a court clerk that foreign visitors would need prior approval from higher authorities, four of the diplomats told Reuters, requesting anonymity. The Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court and China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Guo, 58, has gained international attention for his campaigns on issues including corruption and censorship and his allegations of mistreatment by Chinese authorities during more than a decade spent behind bars on previous charges. His latest detention in 2022 came a year after he was stopped from leaving the country to visit his dying wife in the U.S., sparking further outcry.