Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 24, 2023

Newsline: Canada and Saudi Arabia agree to restore diplomatic ties

Canada and Saudi Arabia have agreed to restore full diplomatic ties and appoint new ambassadors, both countries said on Wednesday, ending the fallout from a 2018 dispute that damaged relations and trade. Wednesday’s decision stems from “the desire for both sides to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries on the basis of mutual respect and common interests,” the statements said. The decision follows discussions held between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in Bangkok in November last year, according to statements from Canada and Saudi Arabia. “Punitive trade measures will be lifted,” said a Canadian government source familiar with the agreement who was not authorized to speak on the record. (https://neuters.de/world/canada-saudi-arabia-appoint-new-ambassadors-end-2018-dispute-2023-05-24/) The 2018 row started when Canada’s embassy in Riyadh published a tweet in Arabic urging the immediate release of women’s rights activists held by Saudi Arabia. That prompted Riyadh to recall its ambassador and bar the envoy from returning, and to institute a ban on new trade. The normalization comes as the Saudi prince, known as MbS, seeks to reassert Saudi Arabia as a regional power by using his place atop an energy giant in an oil-dependent world. “We’ve seen in recent years that Saudi is an important global player,” said the source. “Saudi Arabia helped evacuate Canadians (in Sudan), and they’re also playing an important role in finding a solution to the conflict there.” Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly has said “we need to have conversations with people we don’t always agree with on everything in order to find global solutions to global problems,” the source added. Canada will appoint Jean-Philippe Linteau as its new ambassador in Riyadh.

Newsline: China’s new ambassador to US acknowledges difficulties in relations

China’s new ambassador to Washington Xie Feng said on Tuesday that he will seek to enhance China-U.S. cooperation, but that relations face serious challenges. “I have come here to safeguard China’s interest. This is my sacred responsibility,” Xie told reporters after landing at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. “I’m also the envoy of Chinese people, so I’ve come here to enhance China-U.S. exchanges and cooperation,” said Xie. (https://neuters.de/world/new-chinese-ambassador-us-acknowledges-challenges-relations-2023-05-23/) Xie, 59, afluent English speaker who was previously posted twice to China’s Washington embassy, most recently served as a vice foreign minister charged with overseeing policy toward the U.S. The two countries’ relations face “serious difficulties and challenges,” Xie said in his brief remarks. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the U.S. welcomed Xie’s arrival. “We look forward to working with the ambassador designate and his team. We remain committed, as we said on a number of occasions, to maintain channels of communication with the PRC (People’s Republic of China) to responsibly manage competition,” Miller said. Xie has taken a confrontational tone in past meetings with Biden administration officials, including when hosting Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman in 2021 in Tianjin, where he issued a long list of demands for the U.S. to improve ties while accusing Washington of creating an “imaginary enemy” in China. Nonetheless, Xie’s arrival at the embassy post, which has been vacant since his predecessor Qin Gang was elevated to foreign minister late last year, could help Beijing parry criticism that it has ignored the Biden administration’s calls for increased engagement.