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Newsline: China praises British diplomat for saving drowning woman

Beijing on Tuesday praised a British diplomat who was filmed diving into a river in southern China to save a drowning student, a rare warm moment between two countries at loggerheads over human rights. Britain’s mission in the southwestern city of Chongqing said Monday that Consul General Stephen Ellison leapt into action at the weekend to save a woman who had fallen into a river coursing through a nearby tourist town. The video on Chinese social media — viewed more than 170 million times in China — shows Ellison pulling off his shoes and jumping in to rescue the woman, who was floating face down. “I think he should be commended for his act of bravery. I’d like to give him a big, big thumbs up,” said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a routine briefing Tuesday. Ellison’s actions also earned praise from British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who tweeted: “His bravery and commitment demonstrates the very best of British diplomats around the world.” (https://news.yahoo.com/china-praises-british-diplomat-saving-092331677.html) The 61-year-old former engineer had only recently been appointed to the role in the southern metropolis after serving for years at the main embassy in Beijing, and is an accomplished triathlete, according to local media reports.

Newsline: Baku denies reports on Azerbaijan’s ambassador recall from Russia

Media reports about the recall of Azerbaijani ambassador to Russia Polad Bulbuloglu are groundless, the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan said. “Reports of certain news media about the recall of the Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Russia are contrary to facts,” the Foreign Ministry said. (https://tass.com/world/1223793) The ambassador made an ambiguous remark during the online briefing, when commenting on the incident with the Russia Mi-24 helicopter shot down in Armenia. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in this regard that it assumes Baku will not allow itself making any oblique statements in connection with the tragic incident. The Russian Mi-24 helicopter was downed over Armenia near the border with Azerbaijan on November 9. Two crew members were killed and another one was injured. Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry later claimed responsibility for the crash, informing that its Armed Forces had downed the Russian helicopter by mistake and offered to pay damages.

Newsline: Pakistani protesters call for French ambassador to be expelled from country

Thousands of supporters of a radical Islamist party in Pakistan continued to protest over depictions of the Prophet Muhammad in France that they deem blasphemous. They were angered by remarks made by French President Emmanuel Macron in the wake of the murder of French teacher Samuel Paty. Macron defended the freedom of expression to produce the cartoons and attacked “Islamist separatism”. The protesters in Pakistan — supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party — called for the expulsion of the French ambassador in Islamabad. They also want to cut diplomatic relations with France and withdraw their ambassador from the country. Muhammad Latif, a protester at the event in Islamabad, said: “We love our prophet, we will give our life for the respect and honour of Prophet Muhammad, we will give our life but can’t accept the French ambassador’s presence here.” (https://www.euronews.com/2020/11/16/pakistani-protesters-call-for-french-ambassador-to-be-expelled-from-country) The sit-in, which has continued at an important intersection, started unplanned at the end of a protest march from Rawalpindi led by TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi, despite resistance by police on Sunday night. TLP supporters defied the security arrangements of police and the administration and clashed with security forces at different points on the way to the Faizabad intersection.

Newsline: Hungarian diplomat in Bangkok tests positive for coronavirus

Health authorities in Thailand said that a Hungarian diplomat in Bangkok has tested positive for the coronavirus, and is believed to have become infected through contact with his country’s foreign minister, who tested positive last week during an abortive official visit. Cambodian officials had also said that Hungary’s ambassador to Cambodia and Vietnam had tested positive for the coronavirus in the wake of a one-day visit to Cambodia by Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto. Szijjarto was found to be infected when he was tested on arrival in Thailand from Cambodia. The unnamed 53-year-old Hungarian diplomat in Bangkok is the only locally transmitted case in Thailand so far to be linked to Szijjarto. He was described as asymptomatic but tested positive, and was sent to the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Bangkok’s northern suburbs for treatment. Szijjarto had been sent to the same facility before flying back to Hungary. Sopon Iamsirithaworn, director of the Division of Communicable Diseases of the Department of Disease Control, said the diplomat sat in the same car and had a quick dinner with Szijjarto on the day he arrived in Bangkok. After the foreign minister tested positive, the diplomat was quarantined at home, and transferred to the isolation facility after testing positive. (https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/hungarian-diplomat-in-bangkok-tests-positive-for-coronavirus/) The diplomat was not identified by name. However, in response to reporters’ questions, Sopon referred to him as “ambassador.” Hungary’s embassy in Thailand did not reply to questions for further details.

Newsline: Chinese Ambassador to the UK summoned to the FCDO

The FCDO Permanent Under-Secretary has summoned the Chinese Ambassador to the UK to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The Chinese Ambassador was summoned to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. The Permanent Under-Secretary set out that China’s imposition of new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong was a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The Permanent Under-Secretary said that Beijing’s latest actions are an assault on Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Joint Declaration. (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chinese-ambassador-to-the-uk-summoned-to-the-fcdo) He called on China to uphold its international obligations.

Newsline: US ambassador to Denmark makes Twitter claim about own vote

The United States Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands has been criticised for tweeting a claim that her own vote had not been counted in the country’s general election. Earlier this week, Sands posted on her personal Twitter account a screenshot which she claimed showed her absentee ballot in the state of Pennsylvania had not been registered. (https://www.thelocal.dk/20201112/us-ambassador-to-denmark-makes-false-twitter-claim-about-own-vote) Absentee or mail-in votes in the state can be tracked using the voter’s name, date of birth and the county they voted in. All of this information for Sands is public. Several other Twitter users – as well as the New York Times – then looked up Sands’ vote on the Pennsylvania state government website and found it was indeed registered, on October 15th. It is unclear when the information on Sands’ vote would have been updated to Pennsylvania’s election website. Sands, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in 2017, has made several Twitter posts since the US election in support of Trump’s claims of election fraud. The NYT writes that the US State Department did not respond to its request for comment after the paper sent press officers screen shots of both Sands’ tweets and the Pennsylvania election website showing her vote was counted. Danish broadcaster TV2 said it was unable to reach Sands for comment.

Newsline: At least 20 shots fired at Saudi embassy in The Hague

Shots have been fired at the Saudi embassy on the Koninginnegracht in the centre of The Hague, according to local media reports, but police say it is too early to give more information. Reports suggest the building was hit at least 20 times and that dozens of casings litter the ground. (https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2020/11/at-least-20-shots-fired-at-saudi-embassy-in-the-hague-no-one-hurt/) Police were alerted to the shooting shortly before 6am. No-one so far has been reported hurt. Around 6 AM we received a report that multiple shots were fired at the building of the Saudi Arabia embassy on the #Koninginnegracht in #TheHague. No one was injured. We are currently conducting research. Witnesses who have information are requested to call 0900-8844. — Politie Eenheid Den Haag (@POL_DenHaag) November 12, 2020 According to local broadcaster Omroep West, bullet holes can be seen clearly in several windows. Police and forensic teams are now at the embassy and part of the street has been sealed off while the investigation gets underway.

Newsline: Ex-Vatican ambassador to France goes on trial on sexual molestation charges

The Vatican’s former ambassador to France goes on trial in Paris on Tuesday accused of molesting four men in the latest sex scandal to rock the Roman Catholic church. Prosecutors opened an investigation after a junior official at Paris City Hall accused papal nuncio Luigi Ventura, then 74, of molestation in January 2019, and city authorities filed a complaint to the Paris prosecutor. (https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-france-religion-trial/ex-vatican-ambassador-to-france-goes-on-trial-on-sexual-molestation-charges-idUKKBN27Q1B5) Ventura’s lawyer has denied the allegations. The Vatican last year lifted Ventura’s diplomatic immunity and he resigned from his post in December. A Paris City Hall official told Reuters last year that in January 2019, during Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s New Year address, Ventura caressed the junior official’s buttocks repeatedly. Since then, three other men have come forward with similar allegations. Jade Dousselin, a lawyer for one of the men, a City Hall community manager who was 39 at the time, said her client had been molested in 2018. Ventura was papal envoy in France from 2008 to 2019, following postings in several African countries and in Canada.

Newsline: Tanzania Opposition Leader Seeks Refuge With German Ambassador

Tanzania’s main opposition leader Tundu Lissu sought refuge at the German ambassador’s residence in the city of Dar es Salaam, claiming he feared for his life after a contentious election. Lissu and other opposition leaders were briefly detained by the police last week after calling for nationwide street protests against the East African country’s Oct. 28 election, which they said was rigged in favor of the ruling party. The electoral body said the poll was free and credible. “I’m staying at the German ambassador’s residence since Monday because of threats on my life,” Lissu told Bloomberg on Saturday by telephone. Unidentified people had threatened to deal with him “once and for all,” he said. “I read that as: They are out to kill me.” (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-11-07/tanzania-opposition-leader-seeks-refuge-with-german-ambassador) Calls to the Dar es Salaam police chief, Lazaro Mambosasa, weren’t answered. Police said recently that the security situation was calm, with no incidents of election-related violence.

Newsline: Polish Ambassador to Israel Fires Two Employees for Protesting Polish Abortion Ban

Poland’s ambassador to Israel fired two employees of the Polish Institute in Tel Aviv for protesting increased restrictions on abortions in Poland. (https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-polish-ambassador-to-israel-fires-two-employees-for-protesting-polish-abortion-law-1.9278765) The two employees carried signs decrying the right-wing, conservative Polish ruling party, called Law and Justice (PiS), in response to a court ruling in Poland last week that abortion, even in cases of fetal defects, is illegal. The employees carried signs against the PiS ruling party, apparently crossing a line in their ‘misuse of religion and ethnicity’.