Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: US, Cuba agree to restore ties, embassies to reopen

The United States and Cuba on Wednesday agreed a historic deal to re-establish full diplomatic relations, severed 54 years ago in the angry heat of the Cold War. Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro exchanged letters agreeing to unfreeze ties on July 20, when embassies in Washington and Havana can be reopened. Obama hailed the deal as a “historic step forward” that would end a failed and archaic policy of isolating the still Communist-ruled island. Obama — who was born the year the US embassy was closed — called on domestic critics to stop “clinging to a policy that was not working.” He pressed the Republican-controlled Congress to end a throttling US trade embargo set up in 1962.


Newsline: UK embassy says bodies of eight British victims left Tunisia

The bodies of eight of the 30 Britons killed in last week’s jihadist attack in Tunisia arrived in Britain on Wednesday in a solemn ceremony reminiscent of the repatriation of fallen soldiers. The Foreign Office confirmed that these are the first bodies to be repatriated, with more expected in the coming days. “This will be the first of a number of repatriations into RAF Brize Norton,” it said in a statement. On Friday, 23-year-old Tunisian Seifeddine Rezgui pulled a Kalashnikov assault rifle from inside a beach umbrella and went on a bloody rampage at the five-star RIU Imperial Marhaba hotel in Port El Kantaoui, killing 38 people.


Newsline: Suicide bomber attacks NATO convoy near US Embassy in Afghanistan

At least one person has been killed after an explosives-laden vehicle targeted a convoy of foreign forces in the Afghan capital, Kabul. At least 21 people, including women and children, were also hurt in Tuesday’s deadly attack which took place on the main road to Kabul airport, around 500 meters (550 yards) from the US embassy. Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry confirmed the attack with Sediq Sediqqi, a ministry spokesman, saying, “It was a suicide car bomber targeting a convoy of foreign forces in Kabul.” The US-led military alliance in Afghanistan officially ended its combat mission on December 31, 2014. Insecurity still persists in the war-torn country despite the presence of at least 13,500 foreign troops.


Newsline: Suspected Rebel Seeks Asylum at US Embassy in Angola

One of the suspects involved in a plot to overthrow the Angola Government, which led to the arrest of 15 individuals, took refuge in the US Embassy in Luanda to seek political asylum. A source, which identified the suspect’s name as Dionísio Gonçalves Casimiro, best known as Carbono, stressed that the arrest of 15 suspects is the result of a tipoff. Angola’s Attorney General (PGR) said Thursday 15 people were being held by authorities for plotting to oust the government. During the searches the group was found in possession of instruction manuals and other documents.


Newsline: Austria to Open Consulate Office in Kurdistan Region

The Austrian government has revealed its plan to open its honorary Consulate General in Kurdistan Region Capital Erbil in a near future. The Foreign Ministry of Austria announced it is going to open the Austrian honorary consulate in Kurdistan Region, stressing its commitment to provide humanitarian aid and support for displaced persons in the region.


Newsline: US visa technical snag resolved

Operations are now back to normal in US missions around the world following the technical glitch that caused major delays in visa and passport issuance for three weeks. Specialists worked round-the-clock for weeks to fix a hardware failure that caused the technical glitch that affected applications after June 8. According to the official statement of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs on Friday, “All visa-issuing embassies and consulates are now back online. We are scheduling visa interviews and issuing non-immigrant and immigrant visas.” “We deeply regret the inconvenience to travellers who are waiting for visas, as well as their families and US businesses that have been affected,” the statement read.


Newsline: British nationals in Tunisia advised to contact UK embassy

British nationals in Tunisia should make contact with the embassy there. Anyone in the UK concerned about relatives in Tunisia can call the Foreign Office helpline on 020 7008 0000. The number of Britons known to have been killed in the Sousse massacre has risen to 15 but the final death toll of British victims could rise to 23, as the Foreign Office warns tourists further attacks in Tunisia are possible. On its website the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its advice for tourists already in Tunisia or who are planning to visit the North African country in the near future. “Further terrorist attacks in Tunisia, including in tourist resorts, are possible, including by individuals who are unknown to the authorities and whose actions are inspired by terrorist groups via social media,” says the FCO. Of an estimated 20,000 Britons who were in Tunisia at the time of Friday’s attack by lone gunman Seifeddine Yacoubi around 2,500 are thought to have returned, many on specially chartered planes organised by tour operators Thomson and First Choice holidays. All trips to Tunisia for the next week have been cancelled and the tour operators said anyone who wanted to cancel their trip will be refunded. Although some Britons and tourists from other European countries including Ireland and Germany have decided to stay, so many are trying to leave the country they are having to queue outside the airport.



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