Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Russian Embassy Says Seattle Consulate Intrusion Dims Prospects for Better Ties

The United States crossed a red line when State Department officials forced their way into the closed Russian consulate in Seattle, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said. “Colleagues in Washington have crossed a red line and went beyond what is permitted and reasonable,” he said in a comment to the Kommersant newspaper out Thursday. Ryabkov called the Wednesday intrusion unparalleled in the history of international relations and suggested taking US authorities to court. “It is another question what the reaction of the US judiciary will be,” he said, adding Russia was in for an “experiment on an issue that simply has no precedent.” Meanwhile, according to the Russian Embassy in Washington, the US intrusion on a closed Russian consulate in Seattle has dimmed prospects for improving bilateral ties. “They took down the locks and now do whatever they please on the Russian territory. We regard such US actions as hostile against Russia,” the Embassy said in a statement. “These actions alienate the prospects for improving US-Russia relations. They also create additional complications for contacts between Russian and American people, as well as hinder strengthening of regional and global security.” The embassy accused US authorities of storming the residence of the Russian Consul General in violation of international norms and regulations, saying this “most certainly counts as an additional blow to the US-Russia relations, which are already in a crisis state.”



Newsline: Saudi Embassy Claims “Hostage” Situation Off Yemen

Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Washington, D.C. asserted that Houthi militia forces have taken 19 vessels “hostage” off Hodeidah, Yemen. The claim has not been independently verified. In a post on its website, the embassy wrote that Houthi rebels are “holding hostage 19 ships” at an anchorage off Hodeidah. The announcement suggested that the vessels are carrying a combined total of 200,000 tons of “petroleum byproducts,” and it raised concerns that the rebels could intend to destroy the ships and release pollutants into the Red Sea. While the embassy’s announcement asserted that the vessels have been “detained” and blocked from entering the port, it did not specify whether Houthi personnel have boarded and seized the vessels, nor whether any of the ships have been prevented from departing.


Newsline: Ghana embassy staff arrested in Madrid for counterfeiting

At the head of the organisation was a Ghanaian citizen, whom the agents had been following for years: “He has a history of fraud, forgery and drug trafficking”. Passports for 600 euros, residence permits for 300 and driving tests for 2,000. These were the fees of a criminal organization dedicated to falsifying documents, a network that was dismantled Wednesday after 46 people were arrested in 11 cities. According to El Confidencial, sources from the National Police, the body that has taken charge of the operation, the tentacles of the plot reached the Ghanaian embassy, where two of its workers were in charge of providing them with all kinds of documents.


Newsline: Kuwait Expels Philippines Ambassador Amid Dispute

Kuwait on Wednesday expelled the Philippines ambassador and recalled its own from Manila over a growing diplomatic dispute regarding the abuse of Filipina housemaids and workers in the country. The highly unusual move came as a surprise in the typically sedate and oil-rich Gulf Arab nation, whose homes rely on Filipina nannies and maids. The two nations had been negotiating an end to the Philippines’ ban on workers from heading there following the shocking discovery in February of a Filipina stuffed into a freezer in Kuwait City for over a year. But the arrest of two Filipinos earlier this week over allegedly convincing maids to flee their employers’ homes and Philippines Ambassador Renato Villa’s comments reported in local media over the effort appears to have been too much for Kuwait to accept.


Newsline: Israeli PM welcomes Romania’s stand on Jerusalem embassy

Israel’s prime minister has thanked his visiting counterpart from Romania for her government’s stand on possibly moving Romania’s embassy to Jerusalem. Benjamin Netanyahu met Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila who is on a two-day visit. Netanyahu’s statement on Wednesday welcomed the “Romanian government’s approval of a draft decision on initiating the transfer of the Romanian Embassy to Jerusalem.” Earlier this month, Liviu Dragnea of the Social Democratic Party which effectively runs Romania’s government, said Bucharest is ready to follow the U.S. and move its embassy to Jerusalem. But Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who is in charge of foreign policy, later downplayed the announcement.


Newsline: North Korea’s Kim Visits Chinese Embassy, Bus-Crash Victims

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited survivors of a deadly tour-bus crash, which killed dozens of Chinese tourists, and personally offered condolences to China’s ambassador in Pyongyang, state media said. Mr. Kim arrived at the Chinese Embassy at 6:30 a.m. Monday, the day after the crash, to “express his deep sympathy” and extend his condolences to Chinese President Xi Jinping, the official Korean Central News Agency said in a Tuesday report. Later Monday, Mr. Kim visited the hospital where survivors are being treated, KCNA said. The agency published photos showing Mr. Kim holding hands with patients. The tour bus fell from a bridge Sunday evening in North Hwanghae province, leaving 32 Chinese and four North Koreans dead and two Chinese severely injured, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.


Newsline: U.S. curbs embassy services, staff in Nicaragua

The U.S. State department authorized the departure of U.S. government employees and curbed consular services. A State Department official said the embassy in Managua would shutter many of its operations until further notice but that it would continue to provide services to U.S. citizens and visa applicants. Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in the capital of Nicaragua on Monday to demand the resignation of the country’s president after a violent crackdown by police on protests that have left at least nine dead. Demonstrators waved blue and white Nicaraguan flags and chanted “President, get out!” as they rallied in several points around the capital of Managua. But the government kept police back from the demonstrations after the violence of recent days.