Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Chinese ambassador to Iceland arrested for spying for Japan

Chinese Ambassador to Iceland Ma Jisheng and his wife Zhong Yue have been arrested by Chinese authorities for allegedly spying for Japan, Hong Kong’s Ming Pao Daily reported Wednesday. “According to a Chinese official, the Chinese ambassador and his wife were accused of spying for Japan, and were arrested by China’s national security authorities in early 2014,” the Chinese-language newspaper reported, quoting the U.S.-based Mingjingnews. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has yet to confirm the report. The website of the Chinese Embassy in Iceland still carries Ma’s past remarks and speeches, including ones that condemn Japan’s past atrocities and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the war-related Yasukuni Shrine. Iceland’s English-language Reykjavik Grapevine magazine reported on its website earlier this month that Ma left Iceland on Jan. 23 and was expected to return in March. Urour Gunnarsdottir, a spokeswoman for the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told reporters that the Chinese Foreign Ministry informed them in May that Ma would not be returning. Ma worked as secretary at the Chinese Embassy in Japan between 1991 and 1995, and as commissar between 2004 and 2008. He returned to China and became deputy director of information in the Foreign Ministry before assuming the ambassadorship to Iceland in 2012, according to the report.


Newsline: Argentina summons US diplomat over ‘default’ comment

Argentina has summoned the acting US ambassador to Buenos Aires over his inappropriate comments on the Latin American country’s failure to repay its debts to US companies. Kevin Sullivan, the charge d’affaires at the US embassy in Buenos Aires, told Argentine newspaper Clarin that it was important for Argentina to exit default as soon as possible in order to attract foreign investment and return to the path of growth. However, his comments angered the Argentine government and the foreign ministry summoned Sullivan. Sullivan’s comments were “incorrect, unfortunate and inappropriate,” said cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich. “They constitute undue interference in the country’s sovereignty.”


Newsline: Turkish court rejects prosecutor request for arrest of Kuwaiti Embassy driver

An Ankara court on Tuesday dismissed a request filed for the cancelation of the release of a Kuwaiti Embassy driver who, with a group of Kuwaiti diplomats, beat up a Turkish pilot last week. The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office objected to a decision by the Ankara 4th Criminal Court of Peace to release Salahaddin A., a driver for the Kuwaiti Embassy, who removed Lt. Col. Hakan Karakuş from his car and, along with Kuwaiti diplomats, beat him up. The chief prosecutor’s office also demanded the arrest of the embassy driver. The lawyer for the driver requested that his client be kept under police monitoring. Both requests were reportedly rejected by an Ankara court. According to reports circulating in the Turkish media, a number of Kuwaiti diplomats who were traveling in a vehicle with diplomatic plates got out of the car in the middle of traffic and removed Lt. Col. Hakan Karakuş, an F-16 pilot working with NATO, from his car and beat him up in front of his wife in Ankara last week. Kuwaiti Ambassador to Turkey Abdullah Abdulaziz al-Duwaikh threatened Ankara, saying that deporting Almohaid prior to a court ruling would negatively affect Kuwaiti’s investments in Turkey.


Newsline: Car Bomb Kills Seven Near US Embassy in Afghanistan

Three NATO coalition troops were killed and five wounded Tuesday in a blast near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the coalition said. There was no word on the nationalities of those who died. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, in a statement emailed to journalists. Kabul police spokesperson Hashmatullah Stanikzai said 13 civilians were wounded and 18 vehicles were damaged. An Afghan official at the interior ministry told CBS News one Afghan translator who was with coalition troops was also killed. Faird Afzalai, the chief of criminal investigations for police in the Afghan capital told CBS News a suicide car bomber targeted a troop convoy on a busy road that runs from the embassy to the airport, near the country’s Supreme Court, in front of a new Kabul compound that houses U.S. troops. A white plume of smoke could be seen rising in the sky after Tuesday’s blast, which rattled windows in nearby neighborhoods.


Newsline: UK embassy seeks information after murder of two British tourists in Thailand

The UK embassy are urgently seeking information from the local authorities after two young British tourists were found dead on a bloodstained beach with what were described as “gruesome” head injuries. Consular staff stand ready to provide assistance at this tragic time. “The consul from Bangkok is travelling to Koh Tao as soon as possible,” they added. Police in Thailand have launched a murder inquiry. The bodies were discovered, partly naked, close to the location of where a beach party had been held the night before. Thai police named the two, David William Miller, 24, from Jersey, and Hannah Victoria Witheridge, from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, aged 23. The young woman’s throat had reportedly been cut while the man had suffered a cutting wound on the back of his head. Some of the pair’s clothes were located nearby, as was a hoe, which police believe was used in the murder. For some time after the killings, people on the island, located in Surat Thani province and which is home around 2,000 residents, had blockaded its piers to help prevent anyone escaping. The blockade was lifted after a few hours, raising the prospect that whoever carried out the attack could have fled.


Newsline: US Envoy to Ukraine Accused of Posting Fake Images on Twitter

US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt was accused of posting unverified images on his Twitter feed Monday, as he was showing off the ongoing US-Kiev military exercises in Ukraine. Ambassador Pyatt first uploaded a picture of US and Ukrainian troops, which he said was taken in the morning at the military exercises in Western Ukraine. Internet users quickly pointed out that the photo had already been published as early as July 31, RT reported. The ambassador then posted a picture of a German tank allegedly taking part in the drills. His tweet said that the Leopard 2 tank is taking part in Rapid Trident exercises near Lvov. However, Twitter users found out that the posted image was actually taken from a YouTube video uploaded nearly one year ago – in October 2013. UK journalist and RT contributor Graham Phillips called Pyatt out on Twitter, calling the ambassador a “liar” for posting old photographs. This is not the first time ambassador Pyatt has been caught in a controversy over Ukraine’s internal affairs.


Newsline: Diplomatic push grows against Islamic State group

Reconnaissance planes at the ready, France’s president said there was “no time to lose” in the global push to combat extremists from the Islamic State group, minus the two countries who share most of Iraq’s borders. French reconnaissance jets were prepared to take off Monday, a French official said. An American official said several Arab countries had offered to conduct airstrikes. “The terrorist threat is global and the response must be global,” French President Francois Hollande said, opening an international conference Monday intended to come up with a global strategy against the group. “There is no time to lose.” Muslim-majority countries are considered vital to any operation to prevent the militants from gaining more territory in Iraq and Syria. Western officials have made clear they consider Syrian President Bashar Assad part of the problem, and U.S. officials opposed France’s attempt to invite Iran. France’s foreign minister acknowledged that a number of the countries at the table Monday had “very probably” financed Islamic State’s advances, and Iraq’s president appeared ambivalent about Arab participation, saying his country needed the support of its neighbors — but not necessarily their fighter jets or soldiers. In an interview on Sunday with The Associated Press in Paris, Iraq’s President Fouad Massoum — a Kurd, whose role in the government is largely ceremonial — expressed regret that Iran was not attending. He also seemed lukewarm to the possible participation Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in airstrikes in Iraqi territory.



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