Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Israeli embassy staff home after Amman standoff

Israeli embassy staff in Jordan have returned to Israel after a deadly incident at the complex on Sunday. A statement from Israel’s government said among those to return is a security officer, who had shot dead a Jordanian who had stabbed him. Israel said all its diplomats were safe. The incident led to a brief standoff as Jordanian authorities sought to question the guard, who Israel said had diplomatic immunity. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken to the ambassador and the guard, congratulating them on their handling of the situation. The Jordanian had attacked him with a screwdriver at a residence used by the embassy in Amman, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A second Jordanian was inadvertently killed in the gunfire, it said. Israel thanked Jordan for its “close cooperation” over the last 24 hours. The incident was one of the most serious between the two countries since they signed a peace treaty in 1994. Jordanian police had said they wanted to question the guard, but Israel said he had immunity from investigation or arrest under the Vienna Convention of 1961.


Newsline: Diplomat blasts attacks on Russian embassy in Damascus

Russia calls on its partners to condemn yet another attack on its embassy in Damascus, Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vladimir Safronkov said on Tuesday at a meeting of the UN Security Council. “Russia’s embassy in Damascus came under shelling twice during the past night. We urge partners to condemn these attacks,” he said. Al-Alam television channel reported earlier on Tuesday that four shells had fallen near the Russian embassy in Damascus’ Mazraa neighborhood. According to the television channel, shelling had been conducted by armed groups. Russia has repeatedly demanded the United Nations Security Council pass a press statement condemning attacks on its embassy in Damascus. In some cases, these attempts were blocked by Western countries that insisted on wordings unacceptable for Russia.


Newsline: Israel, Jordan in diplomatic standoff after embassy attack

Israel and Jordan have become embroiled in a diplomatic row in the aftermath of Sunday’s attack on the Israeli embassy in Amman. Jordan has refused to allow a security guard involved in the attack to leave the country, according to an Israeli source familiar with the embassy incident and the ensuing discussions. The countries are locked in talks after an Israeli security official who was attacked Sunday night at the Israeli embassy compound in Amman shot and killed the Jordanian man who attacked him, according to statements from Jordanian and Israeli officials. A second Jordanian man at the scene, who was the landlord of the building, was also injured and later died of his wounds. For now, Israel has decided to keep its embassy staff in Amman after Jordan refused to let the security guard leave.


Newsline: Iran Says Ambassador to Remain in Kuwait Despite Row

Iran on Monday denied reports that Kuwait had expelled its ambassador, saying it would maintain a dialogue with the Gulf Arab state after a diplomatic row over Tehran’s alleged links to a “spy and terror” cell. Iranian and Kuwaiti media reported on Thursday that Kuwait had ordered the expulsion of the Iranian ambassador and 14 other diplomats, worsening an unusual public dispute between the two countries. “The ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran will continue to be present in Kuwait and the embassy will be active at the ambassadorial level, and there is no problem in this regard,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency. Kuwait also told Iran’s cultural and military missions to shut down, following a court case that increased tensions between the Gulf Arab state and Tehran. Iran responded to the expulsions by filing a complaint with the Kuwaiti charge d’affaires. The expulsions were a rare move for Kuwait, which avoids conflict and has worked at keeping good relations with nearby countries and whose ruling emir is a regional diplomatic broker. Saudi Arabia, which severed ties with Tehran last year over attacks by Iranian demonstrators on its missions in the Islamic Republic, welcomed the move.


Newsline: Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak ends tenure at Washington embassy

Sergey Kislyak, the diplomat at the heart of President Trump’s rabbit hole of a scandal, has ended his nearly decade-long tenure at the Russian embassy in Washington, officials said Saturday. The Kremlin’s embassy said on Twitter that Minister-Counselor and Deputy Chief of Mission Denis Gonchar will assume Kislyak’s duties until his successor arrives in D.C. from Russia. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Anatoly Antonov has been nominated to take Kislyak’s place.


Newsline: Trump picks former U.N. spokesman Grenell for ambassador to Germany

President Donald Trump has picked former U.N. spokesman Richard Grenell as U.S. ambassador to Germany, a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity said. Grenell served as U.S. spokesman at the United Nations from 2001 to 2008, during the administration of Republican President George W. Bush. Currently, Grenell is a contributor to Fox News. His nomination as envoy to NATO ally Germany must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Trump has scolded Germany for not reaching NATO’s target for defense spending and complained about its trade surplus with the United States.


Newsline: Embassy officials visit US student detained in China over row with taxi driver

US embassy officials visited the American university student detained in China over an altercation with a taxi driver, as family and friends continue to lobby for his release. Guthrie McLean, a 25-year-old student at the University of Montana, is being held at a detention centre in Zhengzhou, Henan province. He was visited by officials from the US consulate in Wuhan, capital of Hunan, according to the office of Montana Senator Jon Tester. The officials confirmed that McLean had no “physical or mental health concerns” and had been given access to legal resources, the office said in a statement. His mother, Jennifer McLean, however, told the Associated Press: “Fine is a bit of an overstatement. He is enduring.” McLean was detained by police and charged with intentional injury after becoming involved in a dispute between his mother and a taxi driver on June 10. According to Tom Mitchell, a long-time family friend and Beijing bureau chief for the Financial Times, the driver refused to give Mrs McLean, who is deaf and teaches sign language in China, 30 yuan in change after driving her to her home in Zhengzhou. In the ensuing argument, the driver threw a 10 yuan note at the woman and things “escalated from there”. The driver then tried to snatch Mrs McLean’s bags and was “pushing her around” when her son came out from the house to see what was going on. He pulled the driver off his mother and pushed him to the ground, Mitchell said. The driver claimed he hurt his knee in the altercation, for which police demanded 100,000 yuan (US$14,800) in compensation from McLean. They later lowered the sum to 50,000 yuan. Two senators from Montana have been working with government officials from China and the US in a bid to reunite the McLeans. Senator Steve Daines visited Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the US, on Thursday to “urge a prompt resolution” to Guthrie’s case, while working with US ambassador to China Terry Branstad.