Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Algeria summons Moroccan envoy over alleged border shooting

The Algerian Foreign Ministry summoned the Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in Algiers just a day after Morocco accused Algerian troops of shooting a crowd of Moroccan civilians, the official APS news agency reported. “In the absence of the Ambassador, Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in Algiers was summoned on Sunday and was received by the Secretary General at the Foreign Ministry, Abdelhamid Senouci Bereksi,” the ministry said in a statement, according to the APS report. “Following the verbal escalation orchestrated by Moroccan officials against Algeria whose army forces were wrongly charged of firing at Moroccan civilians near the border between the two nations,” the ministry said. Bereksi told the Moroccan officials on Sunday that Algiers rejects Morocco’s claims that Algerian troops targeted Moroccan civilians. The controversy erupted on Saturday when the Moroccan government said Algerian forces fired on a group of Moroccans on the border, seriously injuring one citizen in the face. Morocco summoned the Algerian ambassador in Rabat the same day to provide explanations over the incident. The Moroccan version of events contrasts sharply with Algeria’s account. Earlier on Sunday, the spokesman for the Algerian Foreign Ministry, Abdelaziz Benali Cherif, was quoted by TSA news web as saying that “Moroccan civilians threw stones at the Algerian border guards, who responded with two warning shots in the air without targeting anybody, and I confirm there were no injuries.” Diplomatic coldness remains between Algiers and Rabat, mostly due to a sharp disagreement between the two nations over the issue of independence for the Western Sahara. Algiers supports self-determination for the Sahrawi people, while Rabat insists that the Western Sahara is part of Morocco territories.


Newsline: Mexico plans to reopen embassy in Angola

Mexico plans to open a new embassy in Angola to strengthen relations with the African nation, the Foreign Relations Secretariat said. Foreign Relations Secretary Jose Antonio Meade visited Angola during his working tour of Africa, the secretariat said in a statement. Meade said during his visit to Luanda, Angola’s capital, that the embassy would open “soon” as a move “in reciprocity” with the African nation, which has had an embassy in Mexico City since 1997. Meade was the first Mexican foreign relations secretary to visit Angola.


Newsline: 38-year hunt for US diplomat is not over

The 38-year hunt for an American diplomat who, police say, bludgeoned his family to death and vanished without a trace is not over, after all. The crime was as baffling as it was brutal: The diplomat left his office at the State Department, bought a large hammer on the way home to suburban Bethesda, Md., and, according to officials, beat his wife, his mother and his three sons to death. He piled the battered bodies into a Chevrolet station wagon, drove six hours south and left them burning in a shallow grave in a North Carolina swamp, according to the F.B.I.’s reconstruction of the crime. The abandoned, blood-soaked car was discovered hundreds of miles away in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, near Gatlinburg, Tenn., and the diplomat, William Bradford Bishop Jr., vanished without a trace. For 38 years, the F.B.I. has hunted for Mr. Bishop, the only suspect in the 1976 murders, running down hundreds of reported sightings in the United States and Europe. The case became a staple of crime-solver television programs and not a few conspiracy theories. Last week, in what officials hoped would be the break that closed the case, the F.B.I. exhumed the decomposed remains of a John Doe, a destitute hitchhiker who was killed by a car in 1981 in front of a Western Sizzlin restaurant in Scottsboro, Ala., and buried anonymously, in a pauper’s grave. But chagrined F.B.I. agents said that the DNA from the two men did not match. Mr. Bishop, a graduate of Yale, was an army counterintelligence officer before entering the Foreign Service. He had stints as a diplomat in Botswana, Ethiopia and Italy and reportedly spoke five languages. Later, some speculated that Mr. Bishop was living in Europe, and seemingly credible sightings were reported over the years from Italy, Switzerland and elsewhere.


Newsline: Assange fears that his Ecuadorian embassy hideout in London is being bugged

Assange fears he is being bugged at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Lawyers claim the WikiLeaks founder, who has been holed up in the embassy for the past two years to avoid extradition to Sweden, ‘is most likely under auditory surveillance’. Last year a covert listening device was found behind a plug socket in the ambassador’s office, but security experts described it as rudimentary and unlikely to have been the work of police or the security services. Mr Assange’s new eavesdropping claim was included in a court submission last week in which his lawyers argue his confinement is a ‘deprivation of liberty’ under European law. Among other reasons, they cite his cramped living conditions which mean he ‘cannot carry out his professional duties in a normal fashion’. The 43-year-old has lived at the embassy since Ecuador gave him asylum in 2012.


Newsline: Iran summons Pakistan envoy over border guard deaths

Iran has summoned the Pakistani ambassador to Tehran over a series of terrorist incidents that killed several Iranian guards at the Pakistani border. Foreign Ministry Director General for West Asia Affairs Rasoul Eslami protested against the fact that the Pakistani territory is being used by terrorist groups and bandits to attack Iranian border guards, and called on Islamabad to take serious measures to prevent similar incidents. In the latest border clashes, two Iranian border police officers were killed and several border guards injured in southeastern Iran on Thursday in an armed conflict with a group of bandits at Iran-Pakistan border. “It is unacceptable for us that a number of terrorists and bandits trespass our territory from the Pakistani soil and attack and kill our country’s border guards,” Eslami told Pakistani Ambassador Noor Mohammad Jadmani. Jadmani, for his part, expressed sorrow over the terrorist incident and pledged to notify Tehran’s objection to Islamabad. Iran has repeatedly criticized its eastern neighbors for failing to rein in terrorists who cross back borders into these countries after carrying out their attacks on Iran’s soil.


Newsline: Hostages arrive at German embassy after Philippine ordeal

Two Germans kidnapped by Islamic militants in the Philippines are safely back at their Manila embassy, officials said Saturday after a harrowing six-month ordeal in which they endured threats of beheading and seemingly routine cruelty. Officials said a private plane flew Stefan Okonek, in his 70s, and his partner Henrike Dielen, in her 50s, to Manila from the southern port of Zamboanga at dawn after the Abu Sayyaf gunmen released them late Friday. “With the release from captivity of the two German nationals, our security forces will continue efforts to stem the tide of criminality perpetrated by bandit elements,” President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman Herminio Coloma said in a statement. Germany’s foreign ministry and the Philippine military also confirmed the hostages had arrived at the embassy in Manila. The Abu Sayyaf had given the German government until Friday to pay a $5.6 million ransom and withdraw its support for US offensives against jihadists in Syria and Iraq. The group also threatened to behead one of the hostages unless the demands were met. Philippine authorities said the two hostages were snatched at sea in April as they sailed near the western Philippine island of Palawan.


Newsline: Dublin residents fail to stop plans for Indian embassy

Residents from Merrion Road in Dublin 4 have failed in their attempts to block the Indian government from establishing a new embassy on the road. An Bord Pleanála has dismissed the appeal by the Merrion Road Residents’ Association against Dublin City Council granting planning permission to the Office of the Ambassador of India to change the use of 69 Merrion Road an embassy and extend the property. In approving the move, the board rejected the recommendation of its own inspector to refuse planning permission. Inspector Derek Daly said that if the application was permitted, the area will become overwhelmingly non-residential in relation to use. However, the board ruled in deciding not to accept the inspector’s recommendation, it found that the intensity of use would be acceptable at this location. The current Indian embassy is located at Leeson Park in D4. Ambassador, Smt. Radhika Lol Lokesh is to remain at the Indian ambassador’s residence in Foxrock. However, the application for the new embassy provoked a wave of opposition from residents’ associations representing some of the most prestigious addresses in the country.



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