Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: UN chief appoints former British diplomat envoy to Yemen

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed a former British diplomat as special envoy to war-torn Yemen. A U.N. spokesman announced the appointment of Martin Griffiths on Friday, saying he will replace Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. Ahmed had been in the post for three years. His contract expires at the end of the month. Griffiths is the executive director of the European Institute of Peace and has served in multiple U.N. roles.

http://www.heraldcourier.com/news/national/un-chief-appoints-former-british-diplomat-envoy-to-yemen/article_734ef673-63d9-55a9-b313-eb9a6a8acf22.html

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Newsline: Venezuela reopens Miami consulate

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the reopening of the country’s consulate in Miami, home to a sizeable anti-government community, before presidential elections on April 22, reversing a move by his predecessor Hugo Chavez. Speaking at the country’s Supreme Court late Wednesday, Maduro said he had received a request from Miami’s Venezuelan community to open the consulate so they could vote in the hastily arranged election, announced last week. “I have given the instruction to the foreign minister to proceed immediately to open the Miami consulate so that all Venezuelans can enroll in the electoral registry,” Maduro said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics/venezuelas-maduro-orders-reopening-of-miami-consulate-before-election-idUSKCN1FZ1I1

Newsline: Scientists Seek Clues To Illness In US Staff in Cuba

They described hearing loud, unusual noises in either their homes or hotel rooms. Afterwards, they experienced concussion-like symptoms such as memory and thinking problems, headaches, dizziness and balance issues. But the exact nature of what harmed more than 20 U.S. government personnel stationed in Havana, Cuba, last year remains mysterious, reports a team led by Dr. Douglas Smith of the University of Pennsylvania. All that can be said for sure is that “we have identified a new syndrome that may have important public health implications,” Smith said.

https://www.webmd.com/brain/news/20180215/scientists-seek-clues-to-illness-in-us-staff-in-cuba#1

Newsline: Bulgarian Embassy in Moscow Received Letter with White Powder

The Bulgarian Embassy is among the 13 which have received letters with white powder. According to local sources, the substance is an insect venom, including the pesticide fipronil used in agriculture and veterinary medicine. Such letters were sent to the Embassies of US, Canada, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, France, Romania, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Poland, etc. Russian security agencies assure that letters do not pose a threat. This was confirmed by a representative of the headquarters of the Ministry of Emergency Situations.

http://www.novinite.com/articles/187985/The+Bulgarian+Embassy+in+Moscow+Received+a+Letter+with+White+Powder

Newsline: China’s ambassador to US says it is ‘dangerous to advocate confrontation’

It would be dangerous to advocate for confrontation against China, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said. “It’s certainly paranoid to fear that a China that follows its own path of development would be confrontational to the United States. And it’s dangerous to advocate any strategy for confrontation (against China),” Cui told a spring festival reception at the Chinese embassy. “It would be wishful thinking to believe that some political or cultural genetic engineering could be done to change China’s DNA,” he said. The Sino-U.S. relationship “should be characterized by overall cooperation. Friendly competition, if competition is necessary, and no confrontation,” Cui said. “We will continue to have differences between us, but our growing common interests are far more important. We may continue to have disagreements between us, but the need for cooperation will far outweigh any differences between us. We’ll continue to have problems, but dialogues will lead us to solutions,” Cui said.

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-02/15/c_136977218.htm

Newsline: Syrian ambassador rebuffs UN envoy’s efforts

Syria’s ambassador to the U.N. says his government will not recognize any constitutional reform body formed outside the framework of a Russian-led peace initiative for his country. Bashar Jaafari’s remarks to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday appeared to rebuff efforts by U.N. Envoy Staffan De Mistura to facilitate and mediate constitutional reform for Syria, one of the guiding principles of a 2015 Security Council roadmap for peace for Syria. Jaafari’s remarks echoed an earlier statement by Assistant Foreign Minister Ayman Sousan who said de Mistura had no authority to select delegates to a constitutional committee for Syria. Assistant Foreign Minister Ayman Sousan said Tuesday that only participants in a Russian-led “Syrian Congress of National Dialogue” convened in Sochi last month could be delegates on a constitutional committee. Several members of the Syrian opposition refused to attend the Sochi conference. De Mistura has said the Sochi congress delivered a mandate to allow him to convene a constitutional committee with members from the broader Syrian opposition.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/latest-syria-chemical-weapons-53078658

Newsline: Diplomats in Libya Cairo embassy kick out the ambassador

Several Libyan diplomats at the Libyan embassy in Cairo issued a statement announcing the dismissal of the ambassador Mohammed Abdulaziz for “violations related to regionalism” from his part and his loyalists. The diplomats announced rejecting to have any ambassador appointed by the Presidential Council’s government of what they described “Muslim Brotherhood.” They also added that they only abide by the orders of the House of Representatives and not the Foreign Minister Mohammed Sayala, whom they said had suspended the salaries of the embassy staffers wrongly.

https://www.libyaobserver.ly/news/diplomats-libya-cairo-embassy-kick-out-ambassador