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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: 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: 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: US top diplomat to travel to China in coming weeks

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to China for talks in the coming weeks, an official said on Tuesday, months after Washington’s top diplomat scrapped a planned trip over a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew across the U.S. The visit is intended by Washington to be a major step toward what President Joe Biden has called a “thaw” in relations between the world’s two largest economies. Blinken postponed a visit to Beijing in February after the balloon, which Beijing denies was a government spy vessel, flew through U.S. airspace and over sensitive military sites, eventually being shot down by the U.S. military and creating a diplomatic crisis. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not elaborate on timing. The State Department did not confirm any updated plans for Blinken’s trip. “We have no travel for the Secretary to announce; as we’ve said previously the visit to the People’s Republic of China will be rescheduled when conditions allow,” deputy spokesman Vedant Patel said. (https://neuters.de/world/blinken-set-travel-china-talks-coming-weeks-bloomberg-2023-06-06/) China’s Washington embassy did not respond to a request for comment.

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: Chinese state-run media dismiss U.S. diplomat’s visit to Beijing

A Chinese state-backed newspaper criticised the visit of a senior U.S. State Department official to China, saying his visit was motivated more by Washington’s own goal to portray itself as the side seeking communication and not Beijing. The United States has been trying to create an image as a responsible country by delivering a “goodwill message” to the outside world that it has been seeking communication with China, and trying to shift the blame to China for the lack of communication or refusal to communicate, the Global Times wrote late on Sunday, citing Chinese experts. (https://news.yahoo.com/chinese-state-media-dismisses-u-055327529.html) The scathing commentary coincided with the arrival of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink in Beijing, in a visit that the State Department said will see discussions on “key issues in the bilateral relationship” of the two superpowers. Sino-U.S. relations have sunk to new lows since U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken scrapped a planned trip to China in February after an alleged Chinese spy balloon flew through U.S. airspace. Tensions have further worsened as both sides clashed over matters ranging from democratically governed Taiwan, which China claims as its own, to military activities in the South China Sea.

Newsline: US top diplomat to visit Saudi Arabia next week

U.S. top diplomat Antony Blinken will visit Saudi Arabia next week for talks on security and economic issues, the State Department said on Friday. Secretary of State Blinken’s trip, which follows a visit last month by White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, comes after disputes including over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents and the decision last year by the OPEC+ group to cut oil production amid high energy prices driven by the war in Ukraine. White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said Blinken will focus on moving forward the U.S. relationship with Riyadh. “We’re focused on the future,” Kirby told reporters on Friday. “It’s an important strategic partnership.” “That doesn’t mean we always agree with the Saudis on everything, or that they agree with us on everything. We’ve certainly had differences of opinion,” Kirby added. (https://news.yahoo.com/us-secretary-state-blinken-visit-161503006.html) Blinken’s trip from Tuesday to Thursday will include a June 7 U.S.-Gulf Cooperation Council ministerial meeting on Middle East security and integration, according to a State Department statement. Blinken is also scheduled to co-host a June 8 meeting with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan on combating the Islamic State militant group, the statement said.

Newsline: United States re-opens embassy in Seychelles after 27 years

The United States said that it has re-opened its embassy in Victoria, Seychelles, marking a return to a full-time diplomatic presence on the island nation in the East Indian Ocean. The decision marked a return to a full-time U.S. presence in Seychelles for the first time in 27 years as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it “symbolizes our commitment to deepening our partnership with the government and people of Seychelles as a key nation in the Indian Ocean region.” “The time is right to elevate the relationship so that together we can better address shared challenges and take advantage of mutually beneficial opportunities,” Blinken said. “The United States and Seychelles share an agenda that includes developing the blue economy, responding to climate change, improving maritime security, and stemming transnational crime and corruption.” (https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2023/06/02/Seychelles-embassy-diplomatic-relations/2591685702113/) The United States first established diplomatic relations with Seychelles in 1976, following Seychelles’ independence from Britain. The State Department said the two have enjoyed a history of partnership and cooperation based on shared priorities in the Indian Ocean.

Newsline: US top diplomat pledges to open diplomatic station in Arctic Norway

The U.S. will open its northernmost diplomatic station in the Norwegian Arctic town of Tromsoe, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday. “To deepen our own engagement in the high north, I am announcing today the United States will be opening an American presence post in Tromsoe,” Blinken told reporters after a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Oslo. “For us, the presence post in Tromsoe is really an ability to have a diplomatic footprint above the Arctic Circle,” he said. (https://neuters.de/world/united-states-open-diplomatic-station-arctic-norway-2023-06-01/) The post would open “later this year” and would be staffed with one U.S. diplomat, the U.S. embassy in Oslo said in a statement, noting that the U.S. had an office in Tromsoe until 1994.