Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Latvia’s Foreign Minister Asks US Embassy to Quit Using Russian Language

Latvia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgar Rinkevics has called for the US embassy to stop using Russian language in social media. Rinkevics said he understands that the information should be transmitted in different languages for more people to be able to understand it. However, using both Latvian and Russian languages in one and the same post on Twitter or Facebook “does more harm than good” as it makes it seem like the Baltic state has two official languages. In a 2012 referendum Latvians rejected the option of making Russian the country’s second official language. The minister believes that posts written in two languages “informally legitimize” what the nation had voted against. Rinkevics noted that he doesn’t mind if the same information is transmitted in different languages, if separately. The US embassy responded by promising to make adjustments to its style of communicating via social media. Press-attaché Leslie Goodman said that the embassy wants the information about the US to reach the widest possible audience in Latvia and therefore will continue using Russian, but more carefully.


Newsline: US embassy in India denies religious headgear allegations

The US embassy has denied the allegation levelled by BJP MP Virendra Singh Mast that he was asked by embassy officials to remove his ‘pagdi’ or headgear for the visa documentation. “The United States does not discriminate on the basis of religion nor do we forbid religious dress,” the embassy said in a statement. “During the visa application process the United States Embassy in New Delhi does not ask individuals to remove turbans or other religious dress. Nor do we ask individuals to remove their turbans for photos submitted in the visa application process,” it added. Upset at being asked to remove his pagdi, Mast, a Rajput from Uttar Pradesh, turned down the visa by the US Embassy and returned to his constituency Bhadohi. ‘Mast’, a well known agriculturist by profession who is always seen in a traditional saffron pagdi, was invited by the US Embassy to visit the country and give a lecture on Indian agriculture techniques. However, the BJP MP accused the embassy of telling a lie over the issue. “I was certainly asked to remove my ‘pagdi’. They are lying,” Mast told IANS. The embassy said that each year the US mission in India issues over a million visas for India citizens of all religions and ethnic groups to visit, work in, or study in the United States and that the number has been increasing every year.


Newsline: Turkey urged to prove ex-ambassador to Canada had ties to failed coup

Supporters of Turkey’s former ambassador to Canada are calling on the Turkish government to prove he was linked to a failed coup attempt last month or let him go free. Tuncay Babali was reportedly detained a week ago amid allegations he was among those involved in the military coup that collapsed on July 15. The Turkish government has since purged and arrested hundreds of public servants — Babali among them — whom it alleges were tied to the Fethullah Gulen movement that it accuses of being behind the attempted overthrow. Babali, ambassador to Canada between 2012 and 2014, was seen as one of Turkey’s most accomplished young diplomats. His posting to Canada was his last overseas posting before returning to Ankara to serve in the foreign ministry. The government relieved him of his duties 11 days after the coup attempt, then put him in jail on Aug. 18, said Gregg Roman, director of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum. The Turkish embassy in Ottawa did not have a comment on Babali’s detention,


Newsline: Libyan UN ambassador finally replaced

The much-sacked Libyan ambassador to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, appears to have finally been removed. The UN’s list of permanent representatives, which constitutes the definitive record of who is the envoy for which country, no longer includes him. Instead, it has Elmahdi S. Elmajerbi as the chargé d’affaires of the Libyan mission. The foreign minister in the Presidency Council’s caretaker Government of National Accord (GNA), Mohamed Taha Siala, has also confirmed that Elmajerbi has taken over, saying that Dabbashi has done four years in the job and claiming that was the legal limit. Dabbashi has been sacked three times as ambassador, twice by the Thinni administration in Beida and once by the Presidency Council. However, he managed to stay on by ignoring the dismissals – until now. At the beginning of last month, when the Presidency Council announced it was removing him, it appointed former Prime Minister Abdulrahim Al-Kib as his replacement. He, however, has refused to take the post. Having broken with the Thinni administration at the end of last year and backed the UN-supported Presidency Council instead, he recently started distancing himself from it. Privately, he is said to have concluded that it would fail.


Newsline: Chinese embassy officials visit students in quake-hit Italy

Officials from the Chinese Embassy in Italy have visited Chinese students living in areas near to those hit by the latest earthquake, after hearing about the problems they face as a result of the disaster. The officials took supplies to a school in central Italy’s Sarnano. Sarnano is only some 50 kilometers away from Pescara, one of the areas hardest-hit by the earthquake. Counselor Luo Ping from the education department of the Chinese Embassy reminded the students of the safety instructions about earthquakes. Luo said no Chinese student casualties had been reported to the embassy so far. Official sources said that a civil rescue team from east China’s Zhejiang Province had arrived in Italy and had joined in the rescue work. The Italian civil protection agency has confirmed that the death toll has risen to 267 as a result of the 6.2-magnitude earthquake, which hit the city of Rieti on Wednesday.


Newsline: Car Bomb Explodes Near Turkey’s Embassy in Somalia’s Capital

A Somali police officer says a car bomber has prematurely detonated an explosives-laden vehicle near the new Turkish embassy compound in the capital, Mogadishu. Police opened fire on the car Thursday evening when the bomber refused their orders to stop at a checkpoint near the beachside embassy. Capt. Mohamed Hussein says the driver detonated the car bomb in the middle of the road. It was not immediately known if anyone was killed. The target of the bomber remains unclear. Several beachside restaurants near the embassy have come under attack by militants before.


Newsline: Burkini ban protesters set up beach outside French Embassy in London

Burkini-backing protesters have laid siege to the French Embassy in London, after the Muslim swimwear was banned on French beaches. he demonstration is currently ongoing in Knightsbridge as angry protesters launched what was dubbed a ‘Wear What You Want Beach Party’. A post on a Facebook group set up to publicise the event said: “We are disgusted to hear of armed French policemen telling women what they are allowed to wear and making them undress in public. “Join us at the French Embassy to show solidarity with French Muslim women and to call for the repeal of this oppressive law by the French Government.



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