Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 18, 2023

Newsline: Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry rebukes China, Philippines over South China Sea

Vietnam on Thursday criticised recent conduct by a Chinese research ship and the Philippine coast guard in the South China Sea, accusing its neighbours of separate actions that were violating its sovereign rights. Asked for comment, Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Pham Thu Hang told a press conference those vessels were “violating the sovereign rights and jurisdictions of Vietnam”, which was taking “appropriate measures” to defend its rights. Asked about the Philippines’ move, Hang said: “Vietnam strongly opposes all acts violating Vietnam’s sovereign rights.” (https://news.yahoo.com/vietnam-rebukes-china-philippines-over-094645877.html) Philippine Foreign Ministry spokesperson Teresita Daza said Manila’s coast guard’s installation of buoys was consistent with the country’s rights as a coastal state under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. Tensions are high in contested parts of the South China Sea, one of the world’s most important trade routes and a conduit for more than $3 trillion of annual ship-borne commerce. Chinese and Vietnamese vessels confronted each other in recent days on multiple occasions as a Chinese research ship moved within Hanoi’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which experts said was likely a survey. Such a survey would usually be considered hostile if conducted without notification.

Newsline: Denmark say embassy bank accounts in Russia frozen

Denmark’s bank accounts in Russia have been frozen, prompting the embassy to make payments in cash, officials said. The Danish foreign ministry said restrictions imposed by Russian authorities meant its embassy’s bank cards were blocked. “Increased documentation requirements prior to all payments mean concretely that the embassy has been paying salaries to employees and paying bills in cash for a long time,” the ministry said. (https://neuters.de/world/finnish-embassy-bank-accounts-frozen-russia-foreign-ministry-says-2023-05-17/) Russia’s central bank did not respond to a request for comment.

Newsline: Pacific top level diplomacy to go ahead in Papua without U.S. President

Pacific island leaders will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a high-level U.S. delegation in Papua New Guinea on Monday, Fijian officials said, without U.S. President Joe Biden who cancelled his attendance at the talks. Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka confirmed the talks would go ahead after Biden pulled out of the visit to Papua New Guinea due to debt ceiling negotiations in Washington, a move seen by some as a blow to U.S. diplomacy in the region. Biden had been expected to meet with 18 leaders from the region’s main bloc, the Pacific Islands Forum, and sign a defence cooperation agreement with PNG on Monday. PNG Prime Minister James Marape is expected to announce details of the defence pact with the United States on Thursday, his office told Reuters. Fiji said Pacific leaders would hold discussions with Modi on regional cooperation. They would also meet later on Monday with a U.S. delegation for talks on “areas of cooperation and challenges critical to the region and the U.S.” “The meeting demonstrates the U.S. and Pacific’s deep historical and people-to-people ties,” Rabuka’s office said in a statement, adding climate change, protecting maritime resources and economic growth were priorities. (https://neuters.de/world/pacific-meetings-defence-pact-go-ahead-papua-without-biden-2023-05-18/) The chairman of the Pacific Islands Forum, Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown, said the regional meeting had originally been organised between the Pacific countries and India, and his plans to travel to PNG were unchanged.