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Newsline: Chinese embassy in Britain urges London to stop smearing China

The Chinese embassy in Britain in a statement asked London to stop slandering China to avoid further damage to China-UK relations. “The relevant remarks by the British side are simply parroting words from others and constitute malicious slanders in disregard of the facts. China firmly opposes and strongly condemns this,” the embassy statement said. (https://wsau.com/2023/05/21/chinese-embassy-in-britain-asks-london-to-stop-slandering-china-to-avoid-damage/) This comes after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said China represents the world’s greatest challenge to security and prosperity but that other leading economies should not decouple from it after a summit of the Group of Seven (G7) nations.

Newsline: Britain relocates ambassador from Sudan to Ethiopia

Britain said on Thursday that Giles Lever, its ambassador to Sudan, had been relocated to neighbouring Ethiopia after it temporarily closed its embassy in the conflict-riven east African country. “From Addis Ababa, he will lead the UK’s diplomatic efforts in the region to bring fighting to an end in Sudan,” the British foreign office said in a statement. (https://neuters.de/world/britain-relocates-its-sudanese-ambassador-ethiopia-2023-04-27/) Britain, which like other nations has been evacuating its nationals from Sudan, is urging the warring parties in the country to extend a 72-hour ceasefire which is due to expire later on Thursday, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson said earlier.

Newsline: U.S. embassy in London back to normal after security alert

The U.S. embassy in London said it was resuming normal operations after a security alert caused by a suspicious package outside the building on Wednesday. (https://www.msn.com/en-sg/news/world/u-s-embassy-in-london-back-to-normal-after-security-alert/ar-AA17Ngin) “The U.S. Embassy is back to normal business operations. Local authorities investigated and cleared a suspicious package outside the Embassy,” the embassy’s official Twitter account said.

Newsline: Britain summons Iranian envoy

The British government summoned Iran’s most senior diplomat in London to protest what it said were serious threats against journalists living in Britain, as ministers launched a new security review into Iranian activities. On Saturday, a London-based television station critical of the Iranian government said it was moving its live broadcasting studios to the United States after threats it faced in Britain. “I am appalled by the Iranian regime’s continuing threats to the lives of UK-based journalists and have today summoned its representative to make clear this will not be tolerated,” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement. (https://neuters.de/world/britain-summons-irans-most-senior-diplomat-over-threat-journalists-2023-02-20/) The foreign office said the Iranian Charge d’Affaires had been told in a meeting with British officials that Britain would not accept such threats to life and media freedom.

Newsline: British embassy guard jailed for more than 13 years

A former security guard at the British embassy in Berlin who passed highly sensitive information to Russia and was paid for his “treachery” was jailed for more than 13 years in a London court on Friday. Judge Mark Wall said David Ballantyne Smith was motivated by his anti-British and pro-Russian views. “I am sure that you committed these crimes intending to assist Russia… Your motive in assisting them was to damage British interests,” the judge said. (https://neuters.de/world/europe/british-embassy-guard-who-spied-russia-jailed-13-years-2023-02-17/) Smith had pleaded guilty to eight charges under the Official Secrets Act involving conduct between 2020 and 2021. But the judge said that his “subversive activities” had begun two years earlier. Wall sentenced Smith to 13 years and two months at London’s Old Bailey. Smith, 58, collected confidential information for more than three years, including a “secret” letter from ministers to then-prime minister Boris Johnson and other sensitive documents.

Newsline: Somalia reopens embassy in London after 32 years

Somalia has reopened its embassy in the UK after 32 years, in a ceremony attended by ambassador Abdulkadir Ahmed Kheyr, Olympic champion Mo Farah and Somali-Canadian model Sabrina Dhowre, among others. The embassy in London is expected to provide consular services to the nearly 500,000-strong diaspora community in the UK who are eligible for Somali citizenship, and other services including travel documentation and marriage certificates. Ambassador Kheyr said that reopening the embassy was a positive step in strengthening UK-Somali relations. (https://www.primenewsghana.com/world/somalia-reopens-uk-embassy-after-32-years.html) The Somali embassy in London was officially closed in 1991 following the collapse of the central government. However, diplomatic relations have strengthened in recent years.

Newsline: European diplomats block EU’s new ambassador’s plans to live on Millionaires’ Row in London

EU diplomats have “shot down” plans for the EU’s newly appointed ambassador to Britain to rent a luxurious London residence on Chelsea’s “Millionaires’ Row”. Europe’s diplomatic service was planning to lease a large and lavish property on Upper Cheyne Row for Pedro Serrano de Haro, the new envoy, formerly chief of staff to Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy chief and a fellow Spaniard. The four-storey townhouse runs to 645 sq m and has five bedrooms, a roof terrace, two patios and a driveway. The rent would have been more than €1 million (£900,000) a year. Diplomats from member states reacted with fury at cost of the proposed residence. (https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/european-ambassador-eyes-home-on-londons-millionaires-row-rbj25phg5) Serrano de Haro, 62, is married but his two daughters have left home so the palatial residence would have been occupied by only himself and his wife.

Newsline: UK’s Labour foreign policy prioritizes reconnecting with Europe’

Britain’s opposition Labour Party will “reconnect” with the rest of Europe if it wins power, and aim to repair what it sees as the damage done by the governing Conservatives in the course of Brexit, its foreign policy chief said on Tuesday. With Labour commanding a hefty lead in opinion polls over the Conservatives, the party is presenting itself as a government in waiting, gradually setting out the agenda it wants to pursue if it wins a national election expected next year. Lammy said a Labour government would not want Britain to rejoin the European Union or its single market, but would try to restore trust with the bloc after years of damaging Brexit rows. “Reconnecting Britain to Europe, while remaining outside of the EU, will be a top priority of the next Labour Foreign Office,” Lammy told an audience at the Chatham House think tank. “With Labour, Britain will not rejoin the EU, the single market or the customs union. But within our red lines, there is real progress we can make to increase trade with our neighbours and deliver prosperity at home.” (https://neuters.de/world/uk/reconnecting-with-europe-uks-labour-sets-out-foreign-policy-priorities-2023-01-24/) Bank of England officials have said the effects of Brexit weighed on Britain’s economy, slowing trade in the country compared with the rest of the world.

Newsline: Chinese embassy in UK ‘firmly opposed’ to Britain’s Hong Kong report

China’s embassy in Britain said on Thursday it had lodged “stern representations” about the UK’s latest six-monthly report on Hong Kong, which criticised what it called the erosion of freedoms in the former British territory by China. “It distorted facts, grossly interfered in Hong Kong affairs, which are China’s internal affairs, and seriously violated the basic norms governing international relations,” an embassy spokesperson said of the report. “We are strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposed to it, and have lodged stern representations with the British side.” (https://neuters.de/world/chinese-embassy-uk-firmly-opposed-britains-hong-kong-report-2023-01-12/) China has in the past responded to similar criticism by accusing Britain of acting with a colonial mindset.

Newsline: UK top diplomat criticises erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong

Britain criticised what it said was the systematic erosion of freedoms in Hong Kong by the Chinese government and a crackdown on free speech by authorities in the former British colony. The criticism, contained in the government’s latest six-monthly report on Hong Kong, accused China of diminishing the way of life promised to the people of Hong Kong and repeated its view that Beijing had broken the terms of its 1997 handover. “Freedoms are being systematically eroded by Beijing on multiple fronts, tightening the restrictions on the lives of ordinary Hong Kongers,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in the foreword of the report, which covered the first half of 2022. (https://neuters.de/world/china/britain-criticises-erosion-freedoms-hong-kong-2023-01-12/) Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule more than 25 years ago with a deal guaranteeing a high degree of autonomy, including freedom of speech, under a “one country, two systems” formula.