Diplomatic Briefing

Your exclusive news aggregator handpicked daily!

Archive for US

Newsline: Sudan releases man found guilty of killing U.S. diplomat

A Sudanese man facing the death penalty in connection to the killing of an American diplomat in 2008 has been released, his brother told Reuters on Monday. Abdelraouf Abuzeid, who was found guilty in the killing of U.S. diplomat John Granville, was released by the country’s high court two years after a financial settlement was reached between the Sudanese government and Granville’s family, his brother said. The U.S. State Department said it was aware of reports of Abuzeid’s release. “Our embassy is engaging government officials to obtain more information. We call for full accountability for the murders of John Granville and his Sudanese colleague Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama,” a State Department spokesperson said. (https://neuters.de/world/sudan-releases-man-found-guilty-killing-us-diplomat-family-2023-01-30/) The spokesperson added that Abuzeid remains listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by Washington. He has been so designated since 2013. Granville and Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama were both employees of the U.S. Agency for International Development. They were killed by gunmen in Khartoum in 2008.

Newsline: New U.S. ambassador to Moscow heckled by crowd

The United States’ new ambassador to Russia, Lynne Tracy, was heckled by a crowd of people chanting anti-U.S. slogans on Monday as she entered the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow to present her diplomatic credentials. The group held hand-painted placards carrying messages criticising Washington, one of which read “Your tanks are killing civilians”. Protests in Russia – particularly on issues related to the war – are banned unless they have the backing of the authorities. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Tracy he expected her to follow the principle of not interfering in Russia’s internal affairs, the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency reported. The U.S. Embassy said: “Ambassador Tracy is focused on maintaining dialogue between our capitals at a time of unprecedented tension, protecting the interests of U.S. citizens detained in Russia, and supporting ties between the American and Russian peoples.” (https://neuters.de/world/new-us-ambassador-russia-heckled-by-pro-kremlin-protesters-2023-01-30/) Relations between Washington and Moscow are near all-time lows. The United States has responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by supplying Kyiv with weaponry – soon to include main battle tanks – and imposing a swathe of new economic sanctions on Russia, all in concert with Western allies.

Newsline: U.S. embassy warns of possible terrorist attacks in Turkey

The U.S. embassy in Turkey warned Americans on Monday of possible attacks against churches, synagogues, and diplomatic missions in Istanbul, marking its second such notice in four days, following Koran-burning incidents in Europe. In an updated security alert, the U.S. embassy said “possible imminent retaliatory attacks by terrorists” could take place in areas frequented by Westerners, especially the city’s Beyoglu, Galata, Taksim, and Istiklal neighbourhoods. Turkish authorities are investigating the matter, it added. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/us-issues-another-warning-possible-terrorist-attacks-turkey-2023-01-30/) On Friday, several embassies in Ankara including those of the United States, Germany, France and Italy issued security alerts over possible retaliatory attacks against places of worship, following separate incidents in which the Muslim holy book, the Koran, was burned in Sweden, Netherlands and Denmark.

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: U.S. Embassy To Expedite Visa Processing For Indians

The U.S. diplomatic missions in India have launched a set of measures to reduce wait times for U.S-bound Indian visa applicants and expedite visa processing across the country. The U.S. embassy and its consulates have launched the first in a series of special interview days. The United States Embassy in New Delhi and Consulates in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad have opened consular operations on Saturday to accommodate applicants who require in-person visa interviews. In the coming months, the Mission will continue to open additional slots for appointments to take place on select Saturdays, the Embassy said in a press release. (https://www.rttnews.com/3338909/u-s-embassy-to-expedite-visa-processing-for-indians-to-clear-backlog.aspx) The State Department has also implemented remote processing of interview waiver cases for applicants with previous U.S. visas. Between January and March 2023, dozens of temporary consular officers from Washington and other embassies will arrive in India to increase processing capacity.

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: U.S. ambassador says Israel visa-waiver linked to West Bank travel for Palestinian-Americans

The United States expects Israel, under a visa-waiver deal being discussed between the allies, to enable free passage for Palestinian-Americans into the occupied West Bank, the U.S. ambassador said on Wednesday. Ambassador Thomas Nides said he expected an announcement soon on whether the number of Israeli applicants refused recent requests for U.S. visas had been kept to 3% or fewer, as required for a waiver deal. Israel would also have to ratify such a deal. “Number three, we have to be clear about reciprocity. Reciprocity will mean that Palestinian-Americans will be able to freely travel from Detroit to (Israel’s main airport) Ben-Gurion to Ramallah,” Nides told Ynet Radio, referring to the West Bank hub city that is the seat of Palestinian government. “And Americans who live in Ramallah will be able to go from Ramallah to Ben-Gurion back to Detroit,” he said. “When we get all those pieces working together, hopefully, then Israelis will not have to stand in line ever again to get a tourist visa – a visa to come to the United States.” Asked whether Israel was preparing special provisions for Palestinian-Americans to pass through its West Bank checkpoints, a military spokesperson said: “We have nothing new to relay.” (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/us-links-israel-visa-waiver-west-bank-travel-palestinian-americans-2023-01-18/) In an estimate that it says is based in part on U.S. census data, the Arab American Institute Foundation puts the number Palestinian-descended Americans at between 122,500 and 220,000. The Office of Palestinian Affairs in the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for the number of Palestinian-Americans domiciled in the West Bank. Some U.S. officials have privately put that number as being in the tens of thousands. The overall Palestinian population in the West Bank is 3.2 million, according to a Ramallah census.

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: China’s next ambassador to the US faces new challenges

When Qin Gang left his job this month as China’s ambassador to the United States to take up his new post as foreign minister in Beijing, he put a positive spin on his time in Washington, saying in a tweet last week how “deeply impressed” he was by many “hard-working, friendly and talented” Americans. A few days earlier, however, in an opinion piece in National Interest magazine, Qin warned that it was up to the US whether the world descended into global conflict. “The Chinese people are looking to the American people to make the right choice,” he added. (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/chinas-next-ambassador-us-confront-093000997.html) Even as Washington awaits Qin’s replacement – sources there and in Beijing say the lead candidate is foreign affairs vice-minister Xie Feng – inconsistent messaging by the former “wolf warrior” turned envoy underscores the complexity of US-China relations and the challenges China’s next ambassador faces.