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Archive for Diplomacy

Newsline: US top diplomat expected in Beijing on June 18

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to China next week for long-delayed talks aimed at stabilizing tense relations, and a U.S. official said he is expected to be there on June 18. (https://neuters.de/world/blinken-visit-china-talks-next-week-report-2023-06-09/) Reuters reported on Wednesday that Blinken would travel to China in the coming weeks, citing an official who spoke on condition of anonymity. An official on Friday said Blinken would be in Beijing on June 18, but gave no other details. In February, Washington’s top diplomat scrapped a planned trip to Beijing, which would have been the first by a U.S. secretary of state in five years, over a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew over the United States. Washington has been keen to reschedule the trip, and the timing emerged after the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that China has reached a secret deal with Cuba to establish an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island roughly 100 miles (160 km) from Florida.

Newsline: South Korea summons China ambassador

South Korea summoned China’s envoy on Friday to issue a protest, describing comments made by the envoy warning Seoul against making “wrong bets” in the Sino-U.S. rivalry as “provocative” and a possible interference in internal affairs. Xing Haiming made the remarks during a meeting late on Thursday with Lee Jae-myung, head of South Korea’s main opposition party, where he also urged Seoul to stop “decoupling” from China and restore economic and diplomatic ties. Xing blamed Seoul for creating “difficulties” in bilateral ties by failing to respect Beijing’s core interests, including over Taiwan, while being influenced by the United States. “China-South Korea relations face many difficulties. Frankly, the blame does not lie with China,” he said, according to a statement released by the embassy. “We hope that the South Korean side will faithfully keep its promise and clearly respect China’s core concerns, such as the Taiwan issue.” Xing warned against making the “wrong judgment” on China because of the “interference of external factors” such as U.S. pressure. “I can assure you, those who bet on China’s defeat will definitely regret it,” he said. South Korea’s first vice foreign minister Chang Ho-jin summoned Xing to warn about the “provocative” remarks and to express “strong regret,” South Korea’s foreign ministry said. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/china-envoy-south-korea-warns-wrong-bets-over-sino-us-rivalry-2023-06-09/) Openly criticising Seoul’s policy with “untrue content and intolerable expressions” could constitute an act of interfering in domestic politics, Chang said.

Newsline: US Vice President to announce new embassies on Caribbean trip

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will announce more than $100 million in new assistance for the Caribbean when she visits the Bahamas on Thursday, including the establishment of two U.S. embassies. Over $50 million will be spent on humanitarian aid for Haiti, a senior U.S. administration official said. (https://news.yahoo.com/us-vice-president-harris-announce-090154225.html) Harris, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the Bahamas since its independence in 1973, and Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis will host Caribbean leaders in Nassau. They will discuss topics including security and firearms trafficking to the region and U.S.-Caribbean efforts to respond to climate change. The official said the embassies would be in the eastern Caribbean but did not disclose specific locations.

Newsline: US, Saudi top diplomats urge repatriation of detained IS recruits

The United States and Saudi Arabia urged countries to take back citizens captured in the fight against Islamic State, with the kingdom’s top diplomat saying it was “absolutely unacceptable” that wealthy countries skirted that responsibility. “I would say to those countries, you must step up,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told a meeting of the U.S.-led coalition in Riyadh. Speaking at the same conference, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said repatriation was key to ensuring the lasting defeat of Islamic State. He said detention centers were holding nearly 10,000 Islamic State fighters, 2,000 of whom are from countries other than Syria and Iraq. “Failure to repatriate foreign terrorist fighters risks the possibility that they could again take up arms and attempt to restore ISIS’s so-called caliphate,” Blinken said. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/us-saudi-top-diplomats-urge-repatriation-detained-is-recruits-2023-06-08/) Blinken announced nearly $150 million for Syrians and Iraqis to help improve humanitarian conditions, noting that hardship and disillusionment provided a breeding ground for Islamic State recruits.

Newsline: Israel mulls diplomatic recognition of Morocco’s rule over Western Sahara

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser visited Rabat on Wednesday as his government mulls a possible announcement of recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over disputed Western Sahara, officials said. Morocco considers Western Sahara its own, but the Algeria-backed Polisario front demands an independent state there. In 2020, then-U.S. President Donald Trump recognised Morocco’s rule over the territory in return for its partial upgrade of relations with Israel. A diplomatic source told Reuters such a move by Israel could lead to a full upgrade of bilateral ties, with the countries’ respective missions, currently designated as liaison offices, becoming economic embassies, and a free-trade pact possible down the line. (https://neuters.de/world/israel-considers-recognition-moroccos-rule-over-western-sahara-2023-06-07/) Israel’s foreign ministry declined comment on the issue. But a source in Netanyahu’s cabinet acknowledged it was being discussed within the country’s National Security Council (NSC).

Newsline: US top diplomat had ‘candid’ talks with Saudi crown prince

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had an “open, candid” conversation with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the early hours of Wednesday about a wide range of bilateral issues, a U.S. official said. The top U.S. diplomat arrived in Saudi Arabia late on Tuesday for a much anticipated visit amid frayed ties due to deepening disagreements on everything from Iran policy to regional security issues, oil prices and human rights. Blinken and the crown prince, known as MbS, met for an hour and forty minutes, a U.S. official said, covering topics including Israel, the conflict in Yemen, unrest in Sudan as well as human rights. “There was a good degree of convergence on potential initiatives where we share the same interests, while also recognising where we have differences,” the U.S. official said. A good part of the discussion was expected to be dominated by the possible normalisation of ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, even though officials had played down the likelihood of any immediate or major progress on the issue. “They discussed the potential for normalization of relations with Israel and agreed to continued dialogue on the issue,” the U.S. official said, without providing further details. (https://neuters.de/world/saudi-crown-prince-blinken-had-candid-talks-jeddah-us-official-2023-06-07/) Washington has struggled to steady the relationship with Riyadh, where the de facto ruler Prince Mohammed has dominated the decision-making, and as the traditional oil-for-security alliance crumbled under the emergence of the United States as a major oil producer. Blinken’s visit came days after top crude exporter Saudi Arabia pledged to deepen oil output cuts on top of a broader OPEC+ deal to limit supply, as it seeks to boost flagging oil prices despite opposition from the U.S. administration.

Newsline: Iran’s embassy reopens in Saudi Arabia

Iran officially reopened its embassy in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, a Reuters witness said, following a deal to re-establish ties and ease a long rivalry that fuelled conflicts across the Middle East. A ceremony was held inside the embassy’s compound with dozens of diplomats and officials attending the reopening of the diplomatic mission for the first time in seven years. “We consider today an important day in the relations between Islamic Republic of Iran and Saudi Arabia,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs Alireza Bikdeli said. “The region will move Inshallah (God willing) towards greater cooperation and convergence to achieve stability, prosperity and progress,” Bikdeli said in a speech during the ceremony. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/irans-embassy-reopens-saudi-capital-riyadh-al-arabiya-tv-2023-06-06/) In March, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed, in a deal brokered by China, to end a diplomatic rift and re-establish relations following years of hostility that had endangered regional stability including in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. The deal also highlighted China’s growing influence in the Middle East.

Newsline: State Department says US, Chinese diplomats held productive talks

A senior U.S. diplomat held candid and productive talks on Monday with Chinese officials, the State Department said. The visit to Beijing by Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, followed China’s snub last week of U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who had sought a formal meeting with his Chinese counterpart. Kritenbrink, U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns and National Security Council official Sarah Beran met with Chinese foreign ministry officials Ma Zhaoxu and Yang Tao, the State Department said in a statement. “The two sides had candid and productive discussions as part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and build on recent high-level diplomacy between the two countries,” the statement said, adding that they exchanged views on the bilateral relationship, cross-Strait issues and other matters. “U.S. officials made clear that the United States would compete vigorously and stand up for U.S. interests and values,” it said. (https://neuters.de/world/chinese-state-media-dismisses-us-diplomats-visit-beijing-2023-06-05/) Kritenbrink’s arrival on June 4 coincided with the 34th anniversary of the 1989 crackdown by Chinese troops on demonstrators in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square that rights groups say killed hundreds, if not thousands, of protesters.

Newsline: Syrian top diplomat visits key ally Iraq

Syria’s foreign minister discussed humanitarian aid and combating the illegal drugs trade with key ally Iraq during a visit to Baghdad as Damascus emerges from years of diplomatic isolation. During the visit, Mekdad met with Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani and conveyed “an invitation to visit Damascus” on an unspecified date, a statement from the Iraqi premier’s office said. Baghdad was “one of the initiators” of Syria’s return to the Arab League, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said in a joint press conference with Mekdad. The two also discussed the issue of Syrian refugees who fled the country after war erupted, many of whom now live in Iraq as well as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. (https://news.yahoo.com/syrian-top-diplomat-discusses-aid-113003712.html) The visit by Faisal Mekdad comes weeks after the Arab League agreed to end Syria’s suspension from the 22-member bloc, bringing President Bashar al-Assad’s regime back into the regional fold after years of civil war. Iraq remained an ally of Damascus throughout the wider Arab boycott, never severing relations and maintaining close cooperation during Syria’s civil war, particularly over the fight against the Islamic State group.

Newsline: China’s embassy to Norway objects to NATO labelling China a “threat”

China “strongly opposes” NATO repeatedly labelling it a threat, China’s embassy to Norway said, referring to remarks by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a recent visit to the Scandinavian country. “China urges NATO to stop stirring up regional conflicts and creating divisions and unrest,” the embassy said in a statement. “NATO claims to be a regional and defensive organisation, but certain members of NATO constantly extend beyond traditional defence regions, frequently establishing close military contacts with countries in the Asia-Pacific, which results in escalating tensions,” it said. (https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/world/china-objects-to-nato-labelling-it-a-threat-embassy/ar-AA1c4kmv) Stoltenberg had accused China of threatening neighbouring countries and suppressing countries that do not comply with it, according to the embassy release.