Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for December 6, 2009

Newsline: US Envoy, Kenyan PM spat over civil servants allowances

Prime Minister Raila Odinga almost fell out with US ambassador Michael Ranneberger over the push for austerity measures in Government. Trouble started when Ranneberger questioned the recent raise in allowances for civil servants, saying the economy was still weak. Raila, who had called a meeting between donors and top Government officials in his office, defended the raise, claiming the envoy was out of order. The envoy said the donor community had suggested that the Government limits the number and size of delegations overseas and were disappointed by the turn of events. Ranneberger said a minister visiting Switzerland would claim $918 per day in allowances, which is more than what an average Kenyan earns annually. “By comparison it is perhaps worth noting that a US government official traveling to Switzerland receives only about half the daily allowance of a Kenyan minister,” the envoy is reported to have said. At this point an agitated Raila hit back and told Ranneberger he had overstepped his mandate. Raila is said to have referred the envoy to the visit by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton whose entourage occupied the entire Inter Continental Hotel for a week. “The PM asked the envoy to state whether by taking an entire hotel Clinton was also not burdening the US tax payers,” added the source.



Newsline: Fake ambassador’s daughter jailed in China

A 41-year-old Chinese woman has been jailed for two years for a marriage scam in which she claimed to be the 26-year-old daughter of a former ambassador and swindled money from a 23-year-old student. Xu Xiaoyun told Fan, a postgraduate student at Beijing’s Tsinghua University, she was the daughter of Qin Huasun, a former Chinese ambassador to the United Nations. They held a wedding ceremony in Fan’s hometown in central China’s Henan Province. Xu had repeatedly asked for a “cash gift” of 50,000 yuan before their marriage, which raised Fan’s suspicions. After the ceremony, he discovered that there was no Qin Ran, the name Xu used to trick him, at the university. He called police and Xu was detained.


Commentary: A diplomat who avoided Indo-Pak war

Shailendra Kumar Singh is the third governor of Rajasthan who died in office. A career diplomat who served as envoy and later as foreign secretary, he was a combination of a diplomat and an administrator. He was the longest-serving Indian envoy to Pakistan from 1985 to 1989 and during this period he was the one who was instrumental in bringing late President Zia-ul-Haq to Jaipur to witness the India-Pakistan test match — the only Test to be played in the Pink City. He was the author of the then popular cricket diplomacy for which he was profusely thanked by late Gen Zia as Pakistan was trying to avoid a war with India. The visit of Gen Zia softened late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s stand on Pakistan when it looked as if the war was inevitable.