Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: US, Cuba Restart Embassy Talks But Breakthrough Unlikely

The U.S. and Cuba are holding a second round of negotiations on restoring diplomatic relations after a half-century interruption. An immediate breakthrough appears unlikely. Although the Obama administration wants embassies reopened by April’s summit of North and South American leaders, the Cubans hope first to be removed from a U.S. terrorism blacklist. Their status on that list prevents them banking and doing other basic business in the U.S. that they would need for their embassy here. The one-day talks started Friday morning at the State Department. Roberta Jacobson, the department’s senior Latin America diplomat, led the U.S. Across the table sat Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s top diplomat for the United States.


Newsline: UAE embassy in Yemen resumes work in Aden

The UAE embassy in Yemen has resumed its operations from the southern city of Aden, a day after Saudi Arabia’s embassy there took a similar step. Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi is now based in Aden after he fled a house arrest imposed on him by Shiite Houthi rebels in Sanaa. The relocation of the Saudi an UAE embassies to Aden, Yemen’s economic hub, underlines the Gulf states’ support for Hadi. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia joined Western states earlier this month in evacuating their embassies in Sanaa following a power grab by the Houthis, who now control the capital city.


Newsline: Man threatening to blow up US consulate arrested in Istanbul

Turkish police arrested a reportedly mentally unstable man after he threatened to set off a bomb in front of the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul’s İstinye district on Friday. The man, seen keeping one hand in the inner pocket of his jacket, was detained by special operations police deployed at the scene. The police did not find explosives on the man identified as E.C., 33. A search of the man’s car parked near the consulate did not find any explosives, save for a few cables in its trunk. Turkish media reported the man was mentally ill. The U.S. Embassy in Ankara was the target of a suicide bombing in February 2013 by a member of the terrorist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C). A Turkish security guard was killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of the embassy.


Newsline: Suicide bomber attacks Turkish embassy vehicle in Afghanistan

A suicide attack hit a Turkish diplomatic vehicle in the embassy quarter of Kabul on Thursday, killing two people, police said. The blast came shortly after 8:00 am (0330 GMT), not far from the Iranian embassy. Police said the dead included a Turkish national and an Afghan passer-by. “The target was a Turkish Embassy vehicle. One person is wounded and the driver possibly killed,” Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Ayub Salangi told media outside the Iranian Embassy. The blast took place outside the gate of the embassy, which is adjacent to the Turkish mission in the center of Kabul. The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack but said the Turkish convoy was not the intended target. “The target was U.S. military convoy,” Taliban purported spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said on his Twitter account. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs has stated that one Turkish national was martyred while another was wounded. He offered his condolences for the martyr, while he prayed for a speedy recovery of the victim who was wounded in the attack.


Newsline: Canadian Embassy went too far to protect mining company interests in Mexico

Canadian diplomats and trade commissioners went further than they should have in their quest to protect the interests of mining company Excellon Resources Inc. in a dispute with local workers and landowners at a silver mine in Mexico, critics say. Emails written during a blockade and protest in the summer of 2012 were obtained by MiningWatch Canada through an access to information request to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. At the time, tensions were rising between Excellon, some of the workers at the La Platosa mine and Ejido La Sierrita, the community that owned the land on which the mine was operating. Landowners were upset, they said, because Excellon wasn’t meeting its contractual obligations, for example, to build a water treatment plant for the polluted water coming from the mine. The protesters filed two formal complaints in Canada, including one with the federal Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor.


Newsline: U.S. Embassy warns of attacks in Jordan

The U.S. Embassy in Jordan has issued a warning to citizens that “high-end malls” in Jordan’s capital could be attacked as the kingdom takes part in airstrikes targeting the extremist Islamic State group. The embassy’s statement Wednesday night did not elaborate on the threat to Amman, though it said it was “judged to be credible.” It said Jordan’s government “has taken steps to increase security at these locations.” There was no immediate comment from Jordanian officials.


Newsline: Obama nominates first US envoy to Somalia since 1991

US President Barack Obama nominated America’s first ambassador to Somalia since 1991, when ties soured as rival warlords took over the African nation. Katherine Dhanani, a long-time diplomat with deep experience of African affairs, will have to be confirmed by the Senate for the role in Somalia, where extremists have targeted government officials in a bloody campaign. The State Department welcomed the move as “historic” and said it “signals the deepening relationship” between the two countries after they launched a new era of diplomatic relations in 2013. If confirmed, Dhanani will lead the US mission to Somalia, which is currently based at the US embassy in Nairobi, said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.



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