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Newsline: Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco says five citizens killed in California shooting

Five Chinese citizens were among the victims in a shooting in the California town of Half Moon Bay, the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco said. “The Consulate General is in communication with the relevant U.S. authorities to follow up on the progress of the investigation,” a spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the Consulate General strongly condemned the violence. (https://neuters.de/world/us/five-chinese-citizens-killed-california-shooting-consulate-2023-01-27/) The Half Moon Bay shooting on Monday, in which seven people died, was the second of two gun rampages in California in recent days in which a total of 18 people were killed. Chunli Zhao, a Chinese citizen and 66-year-old immigrant farm worker, was the lone suspect in the massacre at two mushroom farms in the northern California seaside town. He was formally presented with seven counts of murder and a single count of attempted murder during his first court appearance in nearby Redwood City on Wednesday.

Newsline: Incoming U.S. ambassador to Moscow met Russian envoy in Washington

The incoming U.S. ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy has held a meeting on Tuesday with Moscow’s top envoy in Washington DC Anatoly Antonov, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. Tracy, a veteran U.S. career diplomat, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in December. She will depart for Russia in coming days and should be in place later this month, Price said. He declined to detail what the two envoys have discussed but said they did not talk about “any form of negotiated settlements” over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “She’s currently in the process of having consultations with desks and individuals here in Washington and in this case, she had an opportunity to have a discussion with Ambassador Antonov,” Price said. “We have been clear about our desire to maintain open channels of communication with Russia. We have an embassy in Moscow, it’s under duress because of the pressure and the limitations that the Kremlin has imposed on it,” he said. (https://neuters.de/world/us/incoming-us-envoy-moscow-met-russian-counterpart-washington-state-dept-says-2023-01-24/) Tracy, who served as a U.S. diplomat in Central Asia and was the deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Moscow between 2014-2017, heads to Moscow at a time when the bilateral relationship between the two countries have plunged to depths not seen since the Cold War. As bilateral ties have deteriorated, Washington and Moscow has also been in a dispute over staffing of their embassies in each other’s capital, each criticizing the other for imposing restrictions.

Newsline: US eyes China’s diplomatic engagement

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet in Beijing with his counterpart, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, on Feb. 5-6, Washington-based diplomats familiar with Blinken’s travel plans told POLITICO. (https://news.yahoo.com/blinken-test-limits-china-diplomatic-210330153.html) Blinken’s much-anticipated China trip is a follow-up to President Joe Biden’s meeting with China’s paramount leader, Xi Jinping, in Indonesia in November at which Biden pledged to “maintain open lines of communication” with Beijing at a time of worsening bilateral tensions. The visit is a test of whether the Biden-Xi meeting has paved the way for more productive U.S.-China ties at a time when the relationship has become increasingly rancorous over issues ranging from Taiwan and trade policy to U.S. concerns about Beijing’s human rights record.

Newsline: India to become focus of U.S. diplomacy in 2023

In a week in which U.S.-Japan relations took center stage in Washington, the White House coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs made clear that India was next on his radar for 2023. (https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Indo-Pacific/India-will-be-focus-of-U.S.-diplomacy-in-2023-Kurt-Campbell) At Indo-Pacific Forecast 2023, an annual preview of political, security, and economic developments held by the Washington think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, Kurt Campbell said America and its allies are looking at India as a country they want to draw more into the Indo-Pacific.

Newsline: U.S. State Department investigates Mexico’s energy protectionism

The State Department contacted U.S. energy companies ahead of this week’s North American summit to ask them how Mexico’s protectionist policies have impacted their business operations there, according to a document seen by Reuters. The State Department sent an email to U.S. energy companies last week asking them how many permits and applications they had applied for in Mexico over the past three years, identify which ones were denied, and list any projects shelved due to the “permitting challenges.” (https://neuters.de/business/energy/state-dept-asked-us-energy-firms-about-mexico-protectionism-prior-summit-2023-01-11/) U.S. President Joe Biden and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador failed to resolve a running energy dispute during two days of talks that ended on Tuesday. The query shows the Biden administration was looking to arm itself with details it could use in talks with Mexico as it seeks to demonstrate the country is flouting a regional trade agreement and potentially stunting its own economic growth in the process. Officials at the State Department and the American Petroleum Institute, the U.S. oil industry’s main trade group, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Newsline: US ambassador to Russia to seek more staff to provide visa services

New US Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy will aim to expand staff at the US Embassy in Moscow so it can improve performance including potentially resume visa issuance, US State Department Spokesman Ned Price said. “Her focus will be to provide leadership to the embassy to maintain this bilateral relationship in a period of extraordinarily heightened tensions and to work with the Russian government to improve staffing at the US Embassy platform, so that our embassy can perform basic functions, like potentially even visa issuance,” he said at a news conference. (https://tass.com/world/1559373) “We believe it’s in the interests of both our countries, in the United States and in Russia, to have fully effective, functioning missions in our respective countries, including the ability to provide visa services,” Price said.

Newsline: US eyes India’s role in diplomacy to end Russia-Ukraine war

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Ukraine may have a role in diplomacy to put an end to Russia-Ukraine war. “We do believe that countries like India, countries that have a relationship with Russia and with Ukraine may be in a position to help bring about dialogue and diplomacy that could one day put an end to this war,” Price said on Friday while briefing foreign correspondents. “We have been in regular, close contact with India regarding what we can do to hold Russia accountable and to impose additional costs on Russia for its war.” (https://in.investing.com/news/india-may-have-role-in-diplomacy-to-end-russiaukraine-war-us-state-dept-spokesman-3475607) India has abstained on votes at the UN condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine bringing to the fore the differences with US, even as the two countries have been developing closer ties. Price cited Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly telling Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in September 2022, “I know that today’s era is not an era of war” and noted that it was echoed in the joint statement of the summit of the leaders of the G20 group of major industrialised and emerging economies that India heads.

Newsline: Venezuelan embassy run by opposition in US closes

The Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC, that was run by the opposition has suspended its operations, it announced in a press release, following Juan Guaidó’s ouster. “We inform the Venezuelan community in the United States, and the public in general, that the Venezuelan Embassy in the United States and all its officials formally ceased functions on Thursday, January 5, 2023,” the press release from the de-facto embassy said. “We deeply regret the affectation that this decision may cause our Venezuelan citizens in the United States,” it said. (https://edition.cnn.com/2023/01/06/politics/venezuelan-opposition-embassy-us-closes/index.html) All of the officials who worked at the embassy as well their mission to the Organization of American States will remain in the US, a source close to the embassy told CNN. CNN has reached out to the State Department about the suspensions of operations.

Newsline: Former U.S. ambassador to Russia rejoins law firm

John Sullivan, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Trump and Biden administrations, has rejoined law firm Mayer Brown to co-lead its national security practice. Sullivan, who was also a top U.S. State Department official under then-President Donald Trump and at one point served as acting Secretary of State, is now a partner at the 1,700-lawyer Mayer Brown, the firm said. (https://neuters.de/legal/government/former-russian-ambassador-rejoins-mayer-brown-law-firm-2023-01-05/) Sullivan exited his diplomatic role in Moscow in September. He said Mayer Brown was the only firm he seriously considered joining, after previously practicing there on and off since 1993. He will be based out of the Chicago-founded firm’s Washington, D.C., and New York offices, but said he plans to mainly work in D.C.

Newsline: Former US Diplomat’s Daughter Convicted of Murder

The daughter of a former U.S. diplomat was found guilty of second-degree murder in a fatal stabbing in Montgomery County, Maryland. A jury convicted 29-year-old Sophia Negroponte for stabbing 24-year-old Yousuf Rasmussen at a Rockville apartment in February 2020. (https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/former-us-diplomats-daughter-convicted-of-murder/3246221/) Negroponte is the daughter of former Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte. She faces a maximum of 40 years in prison when she is sentenced in March.