Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Saudi Arabia summons ambassador from Germany over Lebanon comments

Saudi Arabia has summoned its ambassador in Germany home for consultations over comments by German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel about the political crisis in Lebanon. The Saudi foreign ministry said the government also handed Germany’s representative in Riyadh a protest note over what it said were “shameful” comments Gabriel made after a meeting with his Lebanese counterpart. After a meeting in Berlin with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, Gabriel told reporters that Europe “could not tolerate the adventurism that has spread there”. It was not clear from a Reuters television recording that the remark was targeted at Saudi Arabia. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned while in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 4. “Such remarks provoke the surprise and disapproval of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which considers them as aimless and based on false information that would not help bring about stability in the region,” the Saudi ministry said. The ministry later said on its Twitter account it had summoned the German ambassador in Riyadh and handed him “a protest memorandum over the shameful and unjustified remarks made by the German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.” Hariri’s abrupt resignation has raised concern over Lebanon’s stability.



Newsline: Polish ambassador summoned after Ukrainian official banned from entering Poland

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed on Saturday that Ukrainian official Svyatoslav Sheremeta was banned from entering the country. Sheremeta, who is in charge of Ukraine’s Interdepartmental Commemorations Commission, tried to cross the border in Medyka in southeast Poland on Saturday noon with a German visa. According to Elzbieta Pikor, spokeswoman for the local Polish Border Guard, Sheremeta was refused to enter as the register of people who are not welcome in the country. Polish News Agency (PAP) reported that the decision to bar Sheremeta was the result of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance having in April issued a ban on the search and exhumation of remains of Polish war victims on Ukrainian territory. Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski has announced recently that the Polish government intends to revise its policy towards Ukraine over history. He emphasized that people representing anti-Polish views should be banned from entering the country. In relation to Sheremeta’s barring of entry, Polish Ambassador to Ukraine Jan Pieklo was summoned by the government in Kiev to give some explanations.


Newsline: Philippine Consulate in Mozambique on alert for possible evacuation amid Zimbabwe tension

The Philippine Consulate in Mozambique is on alert in the event of a mass evacuation following the military takeover of neighboring Zimbabwe. Although the situation in the southern African nation is relatively calm at present, the consulate is still ready in case an evacuation becomes necessary, News To Go reported, citing Consul Donald Tulcidas. The number of Filipinos in Zimbabwe is unknown. Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) were previously banned from going to the country due to the alleged refusal of the Zimbabwean government to coordinate with its Philippine counterpart on the protection of workers’ rights. The Department of Foreign Affairs is also currently gathering information on the state of affairs in Zimbabwe.


Newsline: US embassy dragged into Canberra dog attack investigation

A dog living on a property owned by the US embassy has been linked to three separate attacks in the past 18 months, but investigations have been hampered by diplomatic considerations. No action has yet been taken over the attacks, which included one on a four-year old girl, two attacks on adult neighbours of the Stirling property, and one on another dog. The ACT’s domestic animal service confirmed it had been called to the latest attack on October 25, but said it was “currently liaising with the Australian Federal Police diplomatic liaison unit”. In that incident, Stirling woman Livia Auer was bitten on her legs and backside when two German shepherds escaped their yard at a home owned by the embassy and occupied by a diplomat. Less than an hour earlier, one of the dogs had attacked a child and her mother playing in the front yard of their home.


Newsline: Australian diplomat falls to his death in New York City

A young Australian diplomat fell to his death from a New York City building, police said, reportedly as he played a trust game on a ledge. Julian Simpson, 30, was on the seventh floor of a Lower East Side building with his wife and others when he fell, landing on a second-floor terrace, New York City police said. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. There’s no apparent criminality, police said. Simpson and others then went to a seventh-floor apartment terrace, “and Simpson offered to prove he was trustworthy by playing a trust game, going to a ledge and leaning back,” the AP reported. Simpson allegedly reached for another person’s hand, but he slipped and fell, authorities said, according to the AP. Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said in a statement today, “I extend my condolences to the family and loved ones of Julian Simpson,” saying his death occurred “in tragic circumstances in New York.”


Newsline: Russian embassy in UK slams ‘unfounded accusations’ of alleged Brexit interference

The Russian embassy in the UK has responded to London’s accusations of Moscow’s alleged meddling in other states’ affairs. In a foreign policy speech on Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May accused Russia of aggressive policies “to sow discord in the West,” but a day later said that her accusations were not related to the UK. “We asked relevant universities… to send us the source materials,” the Russian embassy’s spokesperson said. “We absolutely do not accept unfounded accusations, which, by the way, lead to a loss of confidence in London also on the part of foreign partners.”


Newsline: Panama Opens First Embassy in China After Axing Taiwan Ties

Months after breaking ties with Taiwan, Panama has opened its first embassy in China’s capital of Beijing in what has been described as a “historic” move. Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela hailed the move as “historic” and reiterated his commitment to the “One China” policy. Varela first considered axing diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 2006, shortly after he became leader of his party, but he didn’t make the move until June of this year. Varela, currently on a week-long visit to China, is due to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two are expected to sign a number of agreements on everything from the economy to trade and tourism.