Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Iran diplomat warns of ‘all-out war’

Iran’s foreign minister warned Thursday that any attack on his country over a drone-and-missile strike on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry will result in an “all-out war,” further pushing up tensions across the Persian Gulf. (https://www.tampabay.com/news/nation-world/2019/09/19/iran-diplomat-warns-of-all-out-war-if-hit-for-saudi-attack/) The comments by Mohammad Javad Zarif represent the starkest warning offered yet by Iran in a long summer of mysterious attacks and incidents following the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, over a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord. Zarif’s comments also appeared to be in response to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who a day earlier while traveling to Saudi Arabia referred to the attack as an “act of war.” Asked by CNN what would be the consequence of a U.S. or Saudi strike, Zarif said: “All-out war.” It would cause “a lot of casualties,” he stressed. “I am making a very serious statement that we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation,” Zarif said. “But we won’t blink to defend our territory.”

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Newsline: Armenia announces it will open embassy in Israel

Armenia announced on Thursday that it intends to open an embassy in Tel Aviv, a move expected to bring the once cool ties between the two countries to a different level. “Israel is an important player in the Middle East,” Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan was quoted as saying in a cabinet meeting. “The opening of the embassy will contribute to the deepening of bilateral relations and protection of Armenia’s interests in the region.” (https://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Armenia-to-open-embassy-in-Jerusalem-602257) According to the cabinet decision, the move will also strengthen the Armenian Apostolic Church’s presence in the country. The new embassy is expected to open by the beginning of next year. Mnatsakanyan said that Armenia would welcome a reciprocal move by Israel, and that “this is on the agenda of our dialogue.” Israel gave no indication, however, that it was considering opening an embassy in Yerevan.

Newsline: US prepared to exchange ambassadors with Belarus after years of tensions

The United States is prepared to exchange ambassadors with Belarus, a top-ranking State Department official announced — a significant step in thawing relations between the two countries. “It is my honor to announce that we are prepared to exchange ambassadors as the next step in normalizing our relationship,” Undersecretary for Political Affairs David Hale said in a statement delivered in the capital city of Minsk. The US has not had an ambassador to Belarus since 2008, when the Belarusian government expelled the ambassador and 30 out of 35 US diplomats. (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/09/17/politics/us-belarus-ambassadors/index.html) Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko — who has been in power for 25 years and is nicknamed “Europe’s last dictator” — and more than a dozen other Belarusian officials were sanctioned by the US in 2006 after a presidential election “that violated international norms and was neither free nor fair,” according to the US State Department. President Donald Trump extended those sanctions in mid-June. In 2015, in exchange for the release of Belarusian political prisoners, the US lifted sanctions on nine state-owned entities.

Newsline: Polish ambassador urges Poles to ‘seriously consider’ leaving UK

Poland’s ambassador to the UK has urged the hundreds of thousands of Poles living in Britain to “seriously consider” leaving the UK after Brexit. In an open letter to Poles in the UK, Arkady Regocki warned that many of his compatriots had not yet applied for settled status, which grants EU nationals permanent residence. Regocki revealed that an “alarmingly low” number of the more than 800,000 Poles living and working in the UK have so far applied to stay after it leaves the European Union. (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/09/18/uk/poland-ambassador-open-letter-to-poles-brexit-gbr-intl/index.html) “To date, around 27% of Poles living in the British Isles have applied for settled status,” he wrote. “This is an alarmingly low level, meaning that thousands of Polish citizens may be exposed to complications.”

Newsline: Russian embassy protests US media harassment

US media claims about alleged spying activities by staff members of the Russian embassy in Washington put the lives of Russian diplomats at risk, the Russian embassy said in a statement released on Monday. “The extensive crisis of the Russiagate that broke out after the Mueller’s report jeopardized the entire long-term Russophobic campaign in the U.S. media fueled by the so-called ‘expert community,’” the embassy said in a statement. (https://tass.com/politics/1078454) “The artificial and purely domestic political ‘assignment’ to smear Russia and unrestrained sanction hysteria are becoming clear.” “Groundless accusations against diplomats and their family members listed in the article pose a direct threat to their safety,” it said. “We intend to request clarification from the U.S. Department of State since such provocative publications can lead to acts of violence.” According to the Russian side, all those developments illustrate “the chronic inability of the host country to provide normal working conditions for our diplomatic mission.” “Earlier, no apologies were made to the Embassy and its employees for the release of their banking information (via BuzzFeed). The U.S. no longer complies with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in its affairs with official representatives of other states,” the embassy’s comment says.

Newsline: Taliban claims suicide attacks near US embassy and president’s rally

A explosion rocked Massoud Square near the Embassy of the United States in Kabul on September 17, a spokesperson for Afghanistan’s Ministry of the Interior said. (https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article235169342.html) The blast was caused by a suicide bomber, say Officials at the Ministry of Interior.

Newsline: Pakistan summons Afghan, Indian diplomats

Pakistan has summoned diplomats from Afghanistan and India after several shooting incidents along two different borders killed four Pakistani soldiers and a civilian woman. Accusations of firing by both sides across the Afghan-Pakistani border, and by both Indian and Pakistani forces across an old ceasefire line dividing their areas in the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir are common. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pakistan-afghanistan-india/pakistan-summons-afghan-indian-diplomats-after-soldiers-civilian-killed-idUSKBN1W004J) The latest incidents come at an especially tense time between Pakistan and India, and as talks between the United States and the Afghan Taliban have broken down. Pakistan’s Foreign Office summoned an Afghan diplomat to account for what it said was firing into Pakistan by militants in Afghanistan, a spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement. The militants shot and killed a Pakistani soldier on patrol in one incident late on Friday. In a second incident, Pakistani forces fencing a section of the border were attacked and three were killed, the ministry said on Saturday. Both incidents occurred in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.