Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: UN chief set to nominate new special envoy to Yemen

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday is expected to nominate the head of the U.N. Ebola mission as the new special envoy to Yemen, the country’s U.N. ambassador said. Ambassador Khaled Alyemany told The Associated Press that Ismael Ould Cheikh Ahmed, of Mauritania, is the only candidate for the post after Jamal Benomar on Wednesday announced his intention to step down. “The secretary-general has already made his decision,” Alyemany said. “Ould Cheikh is a very good U.N. diplomat and expert,” with experience leading U.N. humanitarian efforts in Yemen in recent years, he said. Benomar’s four years of efforts at a peaceful political transition in the Arab world’s poorest country fell apart amid a Shiite rebel uprising, Saudi-led airstrikes and sharp criticism from Gulf countries. Ban was expected to nominate Ahmed in a letter to the current Security Council president. The council must approve the nomination to make it official.


Newsline: US ambassador defends immigrants in South Africa

The US ambassador to South Africa, born in Zaire – now the Democratic Republic of the Congo – to Haitian parents, spoke in defence of the immigrants. “As an immigrant to my own country, my heart goes out to those who have been attacked for being different,” Patrick H. Gaspard said. South African police have reportedly fired rubber bullets at a group of immigrants carrying machetes in a Johannesburg district. The clashes came after at least 12 people were arrested overnight for allegedly trying to break into “foreign-owned shops”, according to police. Protesters also set fire to cars and fought with police as they demanded workers from elsewhere in Africa and South Asia return home. Dozens of foreigners sought refuge at a police station where they stayed overnight. In a speech to parliament broadcast on TV, President Jacob Zuma has called on South Africans to end the wave of anti-immigrant violence that began earlier this month and described the attacks as “shocking and unacceptable”. The violence started after Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini, who rules over one of the country’s largest ethnic minorities, said immigrants should “take their bags and go”. The population of South Africa is about 50m with an estimated five million immigrants. They come from African countries including Somalia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Malawi, and from further afield, such as China and Pakistan.


Newsline: Iranian embassy in Moscow says deal finalised to supply Russian missiles to Iran

Iranian embassy in Moscow and Iranian Defence Minister Hussein Dehgan announced the finalisation of a deal by which Russia will supply Tehran with S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems. The US and Israel have opposed the deal. Dehgan, who spoke at the IV Moscow Conference on International Security, met Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. According to the Iranian embassy in Moscow, the two ministers addressed the military cooperation deal signed during Shoigu’s visit to Tehran. In Moscow, Dehgan recounted how six years ago, Iran signed an arms contract with Russia, but the agreement was suspended in 2010 following UN sanctions. Dehgan announced on Thursday that Tehran would receive the systems later in the year, after Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted the ban on supplying S-300 systems on Monday.


Newsline: Embassies of Somalia and Malawi prepare to ‘evacuate’ citizens from South Africa

As xenophobic violence flares up in Johannesburg, Somalia and Malawi are alleged to be making plans to pull their citizens out of South Africa. Violent attacks started a few weeks ago in KwaZulu-Natal, apparently after a speech made by King Goodwill Zwelithini. Shops owned by foreigners were looted and immigrants moved to refugee camps to escape the attacks. Foreign nationals in Johannesburg said that they had received messages telling them to close their shops because a mob was on its way to kill them. Malawi’s information minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa, reportedly said that at least 400 Malawians would be repatriated. He added that the number would climb as more people came out of hiding. Somalia is also reported to be in the process of trying to help its people escape the violence. However, speaking to City Press on Wednesday, Elias Worku from the Ethiopian embassy said that there were no plans to evacuate Ethiopians from South Africa as yet.


Newsline: Man accused of US consulate bomb plot to remain in custody in Canada

A man accused of wanting to blow up the U.S. consulate and other downtown Toronto buildings was ordered to remain in detention for at least another month. Immigration and Refugee Board member Harry Adamidis said Jahanzeb Malik, a 33-year-old divorced father of two, had to remain in custody because he found he is unlikely to appear at future hearings and poses a danger to the public. Malik, a Pakistani-born permanent resident, was arrested on March 9 following a Canada Border Services Agency investigation.


Newsline: Australia opens new Consulate in Chennai

As part of strengthening relations between Australia and India, visiting Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop inaugurated the country’s new consulate. The consulate is the first such facility in the Southern region after the one in Mumbai. “In my time here in Chennai, I had the opportunity to formally open our Consulate, but by formally opening the office (consulate) as as a Minister, I wanted to underscore how important we see this part of India,” she said at a function. Australian Consul General Sean Kelly and High Commissioner Patrick Suckling were among those present during the inauguration of consulate.


Newsline: South Korea moves Libya embassy staff to Tunisia after attack

South Korea has temporarily relocated its Tripoli embassy staff to Tunisia, following an attack by gunmen this week that killed two local security guards, the foreign ministry said. Two embassy staff members, and one family member, were flown to Tunisia from the Libyan capital. A temporary office will continue to provide consular service to the 32 South Korean nationals who remain in Libya, the ministry said in a statement. Gunmen fired shots at the South Korean embassy in Tripoli on Sunday, killing two local security guards and wounding another. There were no South Korean casualties. The ministry said the decision to relocate its mission was prompted by the heightened risk to its diplomats. It will later review the possibility of re-establishing a presence in Tripoli, it added. South Korea was one of the few countries that still had an embassy in Tripoli.



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