Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Russian Defense Ministry summons US Embassy attache

The attache for defense issues at the US Embassy to Russia was summoned to the Russian Defense Ministry, ministry’s press service and information department reports. He was notified that “on May 22, 2016, Russian air defense facilities spotted an RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft of the US Air Force on aerial surveillance over the Sea of Japan close to the border of the Russian Federation,” it said, noting that the aircraft had the transponder turned off. “The crew did not inform air traffic controllers of the region about its route,” the ministry said, adding that the plane was flying at altitudes used by civil aircraft on regular flights. “Unprofessional action of the US plane’s crew created a threat of a mid-air collision with aircraft of civil airways,” the report said. “The Defense Ministry drew attention to a need to take measures for ruling out such situations in the future during the fights of US reconnaissance aircraft close to the Russian borders,” the ministry said.


Newsline: Shooting reported near Ukraine’s Embassy to Canada

Two people were wounded following a shooting that occurred on May 23, in Ottawa, near the Embassy of Ukraine to Canada, Ukrinform reports. The Ottawa police were informed of the shooting by local residents. After arriving at the scene, police officers found two people with gunshot wounds as well as shell casings at the crime scene.


Newsline: US top diplomat hails ‘remarkable’ Myanmar changes after Suu Kyi talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry hailed Myanmar’s transition to a civilian government steered by Aung San Suu Kyi as a “remarkable statement” that furthers the cause of global democracy. In the first high-level meeting with Suu Kyi and her administration since it took office in March, Kerry told the Nobel laureate her country’s evolution towards democracy after decades under the military served as a beacon of hope. “Today my message is very, very simple: we strongly support the democratic transition that is taking place here,” he told reporters at a joint press conference with Suu Kyi in the capital Naypyidaw. Historic elections in November swept Suu Kyi and her party into office and effectively ended half a century of military rule. Washington last week lifted a host of financial and trade embargoes, but has kept the backbone of its sanctions as well as a blacklist of cronies and businesses close to the former junta. Suu Kyi, a veteran activist whose decades-long struggle against the generals won the world’s admiration, has much political capital in Washington. She now serves as Myanmar’s foreign minister, while also holding the newly-created position of state counsellor putting her at the helm of government in defiance of an army-drafted constitution that bars her from the presidency. That role is now held by her longtime ally Htin Kyaw.


Newsline: Corruption scam in Pakistan’s Jakarta and Tokyo embassies

The National Aaccountability Bureau (NAB )has completed its inquiry into the multi-million dollar corruption scam pertaining to illegal sale of Pakistan Embassy buildings in Jakarta Indonesia and Tokyo, Japan, a well informed source told the Daily Times. A NAB official confirmed that huge corruption was committed in the sale and the concrete evidence of this corruption has been collected which is sufficient to prove the case in a court in order to convict the accountable officers. The report has confirmed that some senior officer from the Foreign Office could be indicted in this scam and for this purpose the assent of the foreign sectary is being sought. The National Accountability Bureau NAB has completed the inquiry into this multi-million corruption scam in a prolonged time stretching over 14 years and has now submitted a comprehensive report to the chairman NAB for further action. NAB officials said that the foreign governments of Japan and Indonesia had cooperated with Pakistan Investigation officers of NAB and hads provide the required record and information in the line of the respective laws. The report says Kamran Niaz then ambassador to Japan and Major General Syed Mustafa Anwar Hussain, have been held responsible for these scams involving millions of rupees. The source further said that the then ruler General Musharraf approved and allowed the sale of these properties of embassies but the NAB report had kept mum over the role of Musharraf in the properties sale. Musharraf was then chief of army staff when the national assets were being plundered.


Newsline: America’s bicycle ambassador to Vietnam

Ted Osius’ path to becoming U.S. ambassador to Vietnam began with bicycle diplomacy, soon after relations with Hanoi were restored in 1995. As a consular officer, he pedaled the countryside and endeared himself to the Vietnamese. Osius is gay and married, and represents a modern America: “I’m white, my husband’s black and our kids are brown,” he says. The closest most locals will ever come to a U.S. ambassador abroad is a passing motorcade or a heavily staged official event. But given the tortured relations between the United States and Vietnam over the years, U.S. Ambassador Ted Osius is dispensing with traditional protocols to help create a new reference point on U.S.-Vietnam relations. His mission in Vietnam started with a 1,200-mile bike ride, the length of the country, as a U.S. consular officer in 1995, soon after official relations between the two countries were restored. His bike diplomacy continues to be his signature style for interacting with the Vietnamese people, as well as local government officials. President Obama departs for a trip to Asia tomorrow, his first stop, Vietnam. Mr. Obama will be the third consecutive president to visit the nation after America’s war there ended in 1975. Relations between the U.S. and Vietnam are warming as mutual interests become clearer.


Newsline: Ireland spends €66m on embassies

The State spent more than €66m on staffing and rental costs for its embassies around the world last year, figures released by the Department of Foreign Affairs have confirmed. More than €8m of that total was spent on rent, with the premises in Brussels alone costing more than €1m to lease each year. By far the most costly Irish embassy is in London. It cost the State more than €6.3m in 2015, €680,000 of which was spent on rent. Other high-cost locations include Paris (€3m), Washington (€2.2m), and Tokyo (€1.8m). Last year’s €1.9m cost of the embassy in Maputo, capital of Mozambique, excludes rent as the Irish State owns the building, which has a value of €2.8m. Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said the cost of each embassy “includes staff costs, building rental and/or maintenance and other overheads”. Of 62 Irish embassy buildings around the world, all but 11 are rented. The embassies the State owns are worth a total of €87.5m, including a property on Avenue Foch in Paris which accounts for more than half the total, at €45m. The embassy building in Rome is valued at €18.5m.


Newsline: Russia’s Embassy denies snapping Swedish TV tower

Russia’s Embassy in Sweden is denying any involvement in the snapping of a TV tower, adding the allegation must have been “inspired by the James Bond movies.” In a posting on its official Facebook page, the mission says it believes Swedes “will laugh when picturing Russian agents … unscrewing bolts” on the broadcast tower. The top portion of the 330-meter (1,080-foot) mast near Boras in southwestern Sweden broke off late Sunday and slammed into the surrounding pine forest. No one was injured but TV and radio transmissions in the area were knocked out. The embassy said Friday that Swedes have “a tradition to regularly look for a ‘Russian trace,'” referring to last year’s hunts for unidentified foreign submarines in Swedish waters. No one at the Russian mission would comment further.



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