Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: World diplomats seek post-battle plan for IS bastion Mosul

Diplomats from the U.S., Iraq and some 20 other countries are meeting to make a stabilization plan for Mosul, as the international military operation to free the Iraqi city from Islamic State extremists intensifies. French President Francois Hollande is hosting Thursday’s talks in Paris, aimed at coming up with a plan to protect civilians, distribute aid and address questions about governing areas newly liberated from IS. The offensive for Mosul — Iraq’s second-largest city and a bastion for IS — is expected to take weeks, if not months, and some fear it could unleash sectarian tensions.


Newsline: German diplomat by immunity after punching his wife in NYC

Strict bedtimes, extreme jealousy and black eyes are just a glimpse of what the wife of a German diplomat said she had to endure at the hands of her tyrannical hubby — who cannot be arrested by the NYPD because of immunity laws. Most recently, Joachim Haubrichs, 56, punched his wife Henna Johnson, 35, in the face at the couple’s Upper East Side home after he went into a rage. Haubrichs claimed that he remembered nothing the next morning and was extremely apologetic, said Johnson. On Tuesday, Johnson reported the incident at the Family Justice Center in Lower Manhattan, who in turn contacted the NYPD. After being made aware of the incident, NYPD brass told cops not to arrest Haubrichs. An NYPD spokesperson said that there is no situation in which it is acceptable for an officer to apprehend someone with diplomatic immunity. The mayor’s office has urged her to go to a shelter for domestic violence victims, said Johnson, who is resistant of the idea. Germany’s Permanent Mission was not available for comment Wednesday.


Newsline: China’s embassy in Malaysia probes forced beggars case

China’s embassy in Malaysia is investigating a report that its citizens are abducted and maimed before being brought to Malaysia to beg professionally. According to crienglish.com, quoting the Beijing Youth Daily, an unnamed official from the Consular Office of China’s embassy here said cases of people from China begging and wandering in Malaysia was not new. He said the embassy always took “measures” once such cases were specifically identified. However, the report quoted him as saying, when one criminal gang was destroyed, new gangs came up to replace them. The official said these cases were mainly handled by Malaysian police and that the embassy could only help its citizens by calling in the police if they knew of such cases, and cooperating with the investigations.

Chinese embassy probes forced beggars case

Newsline: Philippine Police Van Rams Protesters in Front of US Embassy

A Philippine police van rammed into protesters, leaving several bloodied, as an anti-U.S. rally turned violent Wednesday at the American embassy in Manila. At least three student activists had to be taken to a hospital after they were run over by the van driven by a police officer, protest leader Renato Reyes said. AP Television footage showed the van repeatedly ramming the protesters as it drove wildly back and forth after protesters had surrounded and started hitting the van with wooden batons they had seized from the police. Police later arrested 23 protesters, who broke into a line of riot police and hurled red paint at the policemen and a U.S. government seal at the seaside embassy. “There was absolutely no justification for it,” Reyes said of the violent police dispersal of about 1,000 protesters. “Even as the president vowed an independent foreign policy, Philippine police forces still act as running dogs of the U.S.” The violence happened as the protesters gathered to demand an end to the presence of U.S. troops in the country and to support a call by President Rodrigo Duterte for a foreign policy not dependent on the U.S., the country’s longtime treaty ally.


Newsline: US embassy in London opening delayed

The opening of the new U.S. Embassy in London has been delayed and the project will not be completed before the end of President Barack Obama’s term in office, according to a person familiar with the project. Heightened security checks on workers and materials mean progress on the 11-story cube-shaped building has been slower than planned, the person said, asking not to be identified because the details are private. Work, which was due to finish in late 2016 according to the embassy’s website, is now scheduled to be completed around spring 2017, the person said. Delays on such large projects are not unusual and presidential terms play no part in determining when a building should be completed, a spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy said by e-mail, declining to be identified. Embassies are planning to move out of central London’s most expensive districts to the Nine Elms area on the south bank of the river Thames, where lower land values and fewer historical building restrictions make it easier to construct secure offices. The State Department agreed to sell the existing embassy building on Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, to Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co. in 2009 to fund the relocation. The investors have sought approval to turn the building into a hotel, according to the project’s website. The new U.S. president is due to be inaugurated in January following the election next month.

U.S. embassy in London opening delayed

Newsline: Ecuador ‘cuts Julian Assange’s internet access’ after Hillary Clinton leaks

Ecuador has cut the internet connection of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in its London embassy, the anti-secrecy group said, claiming the move was in response to the group’s publication of documents related to US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. “We can confirm Ecuador cut off Assange’s internet access Saturday, 5pm GMT, shortly after publication of Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speechs (sic),” the statement from WikiLeaks said. Mr Assange has lived and worked in Ecuador’s London embassy since June 2012, having been granted asylum there after a British court ordered him extradited to Sweden to face questioning in a sexual molestation case involving two female WikiLeaks supporters. “We have activated the appropriate contingency plans,” WikiLeaks added. People close to WikiLeaks say that Mr Assange himself is the principal operator of the website’s Twitter feed.


Newsline: Russia’s Embassy In US Stepped Up Its Troll Game

Russia’s embassy in the US trolled US Secretary of State John Kerry and British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson in a tweet Monday, comparing Russia’s bombing campaign in the Chechen capital of Grozny 16 years ago to its scorched-earth offensive on Syria’s Aleppo today. The embassy’s Twitter account is notoriously provocative. But the deliberate comparison of Russia’s razing of Grozny to suppress Chechen separatists — which left the city completely decimated by February 2000 — to its relentless bombing raids in Aleppo today was surprisingly candid. Those who have watched the Russia-backed government offensive on Aleppo play out over the past month have made the comparison, too — but not optimistically, like the Russian embassy did.