Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: India’s Foreign Secretary reviews mission security in Afghanistan

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh air-dashed to Afghanistan to review the security arrangements at the Indian Consulate in Herat which was attacked by terrorists last week. According to official sources, she took stock of the situation arising from the attack and held extensive discussions in this regard with Indian Ambassador Amar Sinha and other senior officials. The top Indian diplomat also met the ITBP personnel who, along with Afghan security forces, repulsed the attack. The consulate staff escaped unharmed in the attack while all four terrorists were killed. India has decided to further beef up the security at the Indian Embassy in Kabul as well the consulates at Herat, Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif and Kandahar. New Delhi’s apprehension is that such attacks on Indian assets are only going to increase in the run-up to the withdrawal by foreign forces from Afghanistan.


Newsline: Indian embassy asks its nationals to leave Donetsk, Lugansk regions of eastern Ukraine

India today asked its nationals, particularly students, to leave Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine which is witnessing frequent violent clashes. In an advisory, it also asked citizens in the other parts of eastern and southern Ukraine to remain vigilant about their personal safety and security. “In view of the security situation in Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine marked by frequent violent clashes, Indian citizens, particularly students, are strongly advised to leave these regions as soon as possible,” the advisory said. According to officials, there are nearly 1000 students in these areas. Eastern Ukraine is witnessing a fierce escalation of violence between pro-Russian separatists and government forces over the past few days. The Embassy of India in Kyiv is constantly monitoring the situation and would be posting advisories on its website – http://www.Embassyofindiaukraine.In-, the advisory added. The advisory is effective till Monday, 16 June 2014.


Newsline: Indian Embassy advises tourists to take care in Thailand

India has advised its citizens to take “abundant precautions” when visiting to Thailand, but stopped short of telling people not to travel. The Indian Embassy in Bangkok warned travellers to take note of the curfew hours (10pm to 5am) and avoid any areas where demonstrations or political gatherings are likely to take place. It also advised tourists to leave more time when travelling to and from the airport and to ask hotels “to coordinate transport with the military”. “Public transport, including from/to airport, is likely to be affected from 2000 hours onwards. It is therefore strongly advised that all Indian tourists and residents in Thailand take abundant precautions for their safety,” the embassy said. Meanwhile, Air India has confirmed that all its flights to Bangkok are operating as scheduled. It also confirmed that the nightly curfew “does not apply to passengers travelling to or from an airport”. India contributed 1.04 million visitors to Thailand in 2103 – a 3.6% increase compared to 2012. This made it the country’s seventh largest visitor source market.


Newsline: Many Asians unhappy with embassies in Qatar

A rapid increase in the number of foreign workers recruited from Asian countries, especially in the construction sector, ahead of the 2022 Fifa World Cup, has put the embassies of their countries here in a not-so-comfortable situation, with more pressure on consular services and a rise in workers’ complaints. A random survey conducted by The Peninsula among members of different Asian communities shows that very few are satisfied with the performance of their embassies. Most respondents were critical of what they said were poor consular services provided by the missions. A Nepalese worker complained about delays in consular services at the embassy. An Indian expatriate said the Indian embassy had a lot to do to address the problems of the rapidly growing Indian expatriate population in Qatar. Most Sri Lankans this daily spoke to were bitterly critical of their embassy, its staff and services. Several Bangladeshis contacted for comment also said that they were upset by the “poor” treatment they got at their embassy. The Philippine embassy came out with flying colours in the Peninsula survey. Asked whether the embassy would come to their aid if they were in trouble, all the respondents in the survey said yes.


Newsline: Indian consulate in Afghanistan attacked

The Indian consulate in the Afghan province of Herat was attacked early Friday. While no one was harmed in the building of the Indian consulate, four attackers were killed in gunfight with Afghan and Indian security personnel, said local media reports. Indian government vehemently condemned the attack as a terrorist attack and an Afghan diplomat in Delhi said it would strengthen Kabul’s determination to keep the friendship with India on the right course. Indian and Afghan officials said Afghan President Hamid Karzai spoke to Modi and assured him that Kabul “will do all to protect Indian missions there”.


Newsline: German embassy staffer in India slaps cop, booked

An Indian woman, working with the German Embassy, has been booked for allegedly slapping and abusing a traffic constable after he stopped her car to let the Prime Minister’s cavalcade to pass in Lodhi Estate area. The incident took place on May 5, when constable Mohd Fahrukh, who was on duty at Maharishi Raman Marg, stopped general traffic to let the PM’s cavalcade pass, police said. In his complaint, the constable has alleged that when he asked the 34-year-old woman to stop her vehicle, she insisted on being allowed to go. When he did not let her pass, she stepped out of the car allegedly started abusing him and later slapped him. When other commuters and Fahrukh’s colleague gathered at the spot, the woman drove away, police said. The constable alleged that the woman also tried to run him over while fleeing. Soon after the incident, a message was flashed mentioning the number of her car but she could not be nabbed immediately. Police was later able to identify her. Although the woman, who works with the German Embassy in Chanakyapuri area, is an Indian citizen and does not enjoy diplomatic immunity, she has not been arrested so far. Police have registered a case under sections 186 (obstructing a public servant in discharge of duty), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty).


Newsline: US embassy club delists non-diplomatic members in India

Nearly four months after the January 16 deadline set by the Indian government, the American community club has begun the process of delisting non-diplomatic members from its rolls. While the move has hit many expatriates, it would also affect some Indians. What is pinching the expats even more is the recent decision of the American Embassy School to increase the tuition fee, in an apparent bid to comply with Indian tax rules. The American club and school came in the line of Indian government’s fire in the wake of the arrest and ill-treatment of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade on charges of underpaying her nanny in New York in December. New Delhi felt that the duty-free import facilities availed by the American Community Support Association (ACSA) were being misused by “non-diplomatic personnel”, including private firms and friends of the US embassy. During the discussions, New Delhi stuck to its position that if the ACSA was to run on the embassy premises, it could only have diplomats as members. Many teachers at the American school were found to be dodging Indian laws. Some teachers, whose husbands were also employed by the school, were instructed to show themselves as housewives on their visa applications and their salaries were paid into their husbands’ accounts. Neither the US embassy nor the American Embassy School responded to HT’s queries.


Newsline: Indian embassy in US outsources visa services to new firm

The Indian embassy in the US has announced to outsource its passport and visa related services to a new company for all its diplomatic missions in America following complaints against the current service provider. Cox & King Global Services Ltd will replace the existing BLS International Limited and would offer its services from May 21 at all Indian diplomatic posts in the US, according to a statement by the Indian embassy here. BLS will close its operations with regard to visa, overseas citizens of India (OCI), people of Indian origin (PIO) and renunciation of Indian Citizenship Certificate support services on May 20. In addition to the Indian embassy in Washington, India has Consulates in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and San Francisco. Cox & King Global Services provides outsourcing services to Consulate General of Italy, UAE; Indian diplomatic missions in Israel, Germany, Japan, Sweden, in addition to Dubai Visa in India, Royal Thai Consulate General for Western India and Norwegian Embassy in India.


Newsline: Beijing rejects India’s request to reopen Lhasa consulate

China’s vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin rejected a request from Indian foreign secretary Sujatha Singh to establish a consulate in Lhasa, Tibet, reports the Hong Kong-based Ta Kung Pao. It marks the third time for Beijing to reject such a request since 2012. India once had a consulate in Lhasa, but it is no longer used after the border war between Beijing and New Delhi in 1962. Meanwhile, the Tibetan government is in exile in Dharamsala, India, and China fears that the establishment of an Indian consulate in the Tibet autonomous region will encourage more anti-government feeling among the local population, the paper said. India currently has an embassy in Beijing and two consulates located in Shanghai and Guangzhou. As for China, it has an embassy in New Delhi and two consulates in Mumbai and Kolkata. Beijing is planning to build a third consulate in Chennai on the southeastern coast of India.


Newsline: Nepali embassy in India punishes guards

The Nepali Embassy for India in New Delhi has decreased the salary grade of its two security guards after finding the duo responsible for the escape of two rescued Nepali girls from the embassy a week ago. Security guards Ganesh Poudel and Raghu Gyawali had earlier faced temporary suspension from their work in the wake of the incident. Khagnath Adhikari, charge d’affairs of the embassy, said the investigation showed that Poudel and Gyawali had neglected to to perform their duty well and let the two girls slip past the embassy without anyone noticing. He said the salary grade of the two guards was slashed on the basis of a report submitted by a committee formed to investigate the incident. On April 11, a social organisation had rescued the two Nepali girls from a guest house and handed over to the embassy. The two girls had escaped two days later.



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