Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: State Department Removes Blog Post Promoting Trump’s businesses

The ShareAmerica blog post touting Mar-a-Lago has been taken down from the State Department-run website. “The intention of the article was to inform the public about where the President has been hosting world leaders,” a short statement on the original page now reads. “We regret any misperception and have removed the post.” As spotted Monday by journalist Amy Westervelt, the Department-run news site ShareAmerica ran a story earlier this month that read an awful lot like a press release for the Trump-owned club. A snippet, which ran under the subhead “A dream deferred.” The post was also reblogged on the website of the U.S. embassy in the United Kingdom and shared on the Facebook page of the U.S. Embassy in Albania. The fact that government-funded websites are promoting the president’s for-profit venture drew an immediate complaint from Norm Eisen, a former White House ethics czar under Obama and a frequent critic of the current president, as well as Rep. Mark Takano, a California Democrat. ShareAmerica is run by the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs, and describes itself as a “platform for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and the role of civil society.” A request for comment from the bureau concerning the Mar-a-Lago story and the decision to publish it was not immediately returned.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/04/24/the_state_department_is_now_promoting_mar_a_lago.html

Newsline: Twitter Suspends Fake Account of Russian Deputy Ambassador to UN

The fake twitter account of the Russian Deputy Ambassador to the UN Vladimir Safronkov was suspended at the request of the Russian Mission, according to the representative. “We pointed out the account is fake and took measures. The account was closed,” the representative said. @SafronkovRu was set up on Twitter alleging to belong to the Deputy Ambassador, but was denounced by the Russian mission as a fake. Twitter said in a report that it suspended more than 630,000 user accounts from August 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016. The tech giant also has a longstanding policy of prohibiting the promotion of terrorism and violent extremism.

https://sputniknews.com/art_living/201704251052956727-twitter-safronkov-fake-account-suspended/

Newsline: Saudi King Appoints Son as Country’s Ambassador to US

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has appointed his son, Prince Khaled bin Salman, as the country’s ambassador to the US, in a move said to point to strengthening ties to President Donald Trump. Prince Khaled is an Air Force pilot who has taken part in operations in Yemen and against ISIS, AP reports. The prince, who studied military aviation in the US and briefly attended both Harvard University and Georgetown, has been working as an adviser at the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington since last year. Khaled’s position will allow Trump a direct line to the Saudi monarchy, further signalling warmer relations between the two powers after a cooling following the Obama administration’s nuclear agreement with regional rival Iran.

https://www.rt.com/news/385886-saudi-ambassador-pilot-isis/

Newsline: Algeria summons Moroccan ambassador in row over Syrian refugees

Algerian Foreign Ministry summoned Morocco’s ambassador here on Sunday in protest of Morocco’s accusations that Algeria expelled Syrian refugees into Morocco. “Following serious accusations by Moroccan authorities that blame Algeria for forcing Syrian refugees to illegally enter Moroccan territories from the two countries’ shared border, Algeria has expressed to the Ambassador of Morocco its categorical rejection for these false allegations,” a ministry statement said. Earlier on Sunday, Moroccan media reported that 55 Syrian refugees from Algeria were left helpless near the country’s borders with Algeria, noting that Moroccan authorities prevented them from entering the country and accused its western neighbor of forcing them into Morocco.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-04/24/c_136230389.htm

Newsline: Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang confirms arrest of the US citizen

North Korea has detained another US citizen, bringing to 3 the number of Americans held in the country amid increasing tensions between Washington and Pyongyang. The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang Sunday confirmed the detainment of the US citizen but did not elaborate on the matter. However, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, citing unnamed sources, reported on the same day that a Korean-American man was arrested Friday at Pyongyang’s international airport. According to the agency, the man in his fifties identified only by his surname Kim was trying to leave the country when North Korean police arrested him. Kim has been involved in aid and relief programs to North Korea and formerly worked as professor at the Yanbian University of Science and Technology in China which has a sister university in Pyongyang. North Korea has at least two other Americans in its prisons. Last year in January, Otto Warmbier, who was 21 at the time of his arrest, was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in prison after he confessed to trying to steal a propaganda banner.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/04/23/519129/US-North-Korea-US-citizen

Newsline: North Korean Embassy in Russia Says the Country is Ready for ‘All-Out War’ if US Starts it

North Korea is ready for an all-out war if the United States starts it, the country’s Embassy in Russia said. “If they [the US] commit a reckless provocation, the Korean Revolutionary Forces will deal a devastating blow and respond with an all-out war to an all-out war, respond to a nuclear war with a nuclear strike,” an attache of the North Korean Embassy Moscow said. North Korea reportedly carried out the most recent missile test early on Sunday. However, the launch was unsuccessful, according to South Korean defense officials. The North Korean Foreign Ministry said that the alleged missile launch had not been announced officially, though it’s Pyongyang’s “sovereign right” to conduct such tests. Earlier, North Korea warned it is ready to launch a “preemptive strike” in case of any US’ “provocation.” Pyongyang said it may target US military bases in Japan, South Korea and the US itself if feels threatened.

https://sputniknews.com/politics/201704211052864077-north-korea-ready-war/

Newsline: WikiLeaks Julian Assange ‘Sentenced’ To Life In Ecuadorian embassy

The United Nations has ruled that Assange is being “illegally detained” by British and Swedish authorities. But the Trump administration took action against Assange this week, that go far beyond anything done by the Obama administration. As reported by Australian news outlet SBS, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made the arrest of Assange “a top priority.” In response to a question about Assange, Sessions said that every effort will be made to ensure that Assange ends up in jail. Jeff Sessions comments come in the wake of WikiLeaks publication of material from a leak of CIA intelligence files. Given the damage that the WikiLeaks revelations can do to the reputation of the U.S. establishment and to the CIA, it is no surprise to see that CIA director Mike Pompeo has lashed out at WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. According to CBS News, Pompeo has called WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service.” Jeff Sessions and Mike Pompeo, have made it clear that Assange is one of their top priorities. They have also made it clear that it will not be safe for Assange to leave London’s Ecuadorian Embassy. Given that the UN have already declared that Assange is illegally detained, it could be argued that Sessions and the CIA have imposed a sentence of life imprisonment within the Ecuadorian Embassy.

http://www.inquisitr.com/opinion/4162316/wikileaks-julian-assange-sentenced-life-imprisonment-ecuadorian-embassy-cia-jeff-sessions/