Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 19, 2023

Newsline: Two US Mission staffers found ‘alive and safe’ after convoy attack in Nigeria

Two employees of the US Mission in Nigeria have been found “alive and safe” days after an attack on a US convoy left seven others dead. The US Mission in Nigeria said Friday that those two employees were “under the protection of Nigerian authorities in Anambra,” and that their families had been informed of their safe recovery. “U.S. Mission personnel are on their way to meet and accompany them home,” the mission said in a statement. (https://lite.cnn.com/2023/05/19/politics/us-convoy-nigeria-employees-found/index.html) The other seven members of the convoy – three other employees of the US Mission and four police officers – were killed in the attack. All nine of the people in the convoy were Nigerian nationals, according to a statement from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday. “We mourn the loss of our other steadfast colleagues and four police escorts, who were advancing humanitarian work in the region,” US Mission Nigeria said in a tweet Friday. The two car convoy was “traveling in advance of a planned visit by U.S. Mission personnel to a U.S.-funded flood response project in Anambra” when it was attacked by “unknown assailants” on Tuesday, Blinken said Wednesday. The US Mission said Friday that they were working “intensively with Nigerian security and law enforcement on this matter, to identify the victims previously found, and to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous attack.”

Newsline: South Korea tells China’s ambassador it hopes for continued economic ties

South Korea’s finance minister on Friday met the Chinese ambassador and discussed economic cooperation, as diplomatic tensions with Beijing put an additional dent on the already sluggish economy. The ministry said in a short message after the 30-minute meeting that Minister Choo Kyung-ho expressed his hopes for continued economic cooperation between the two countries on the basis of reciprocity and mutual respect. Choo, South Korea’s highest economic and financial policymaker, also asked for support for preparations ahead of a bilateral economic ministers’ meeting this year in Seoul, the statement added. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/skorea-finance-minister-china-ambassador-discuss-economic-cooperation-2023-05-19/) The ministry did not disclose remarks by Ambassador Xing Haiming during the meeting, which was held after South Korea’s ambassador to Washington said early this month Seoul would soon pursue senior-level engagements with Beijing. The heightened diplomatic tensions, mainly over regional geopolitical issues including affairs surrounding China’s policy toward Taiwan, may hurt a South Korean economy already hit by a slump in exports.

Newsline: Qatar takes diplomatic back seat

The Arab League’s welcoming back of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad into its ranks highlights how far behind Qatar has fallen in its bid to be a diplomatic voice that carries weight in the Middle East. Earlier this month Qatar reluctantly withdrew its opposition to Saudi Arabia’s initiative to readmit Syria. It made clear it opposed normalizing its own ties with Damascus but said it would not stand in the way of an Arab consensus. The dismay in the diplomatic mission in Doha of a Syrian opposition group, which Qatar recognises as Syria’s official embassy to the state, was a stark reminder of the shifting tides. “Qatar did not accept this decision, but they did not stand in the way,” Belal Tourkya, the mission’s chargé d’affaires, told Reuters. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/qatar-takes-diplomatic-back-seat-saudi-flexes-political-muscle-2023-05-18/) Analysts say the change in Doha’s position on Syria is a sign it may be dialing back on its once-ambitious regional foreign policy to avoid raising the ire of its most powerful neighbours.