Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for December 13, 2009

Newsline: U.N. Afghan envoy to step down on schedule in March

The top U.N. official in Afghanistan says he will step down in March when his two year contract is scheduled to end and has asked Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to find his replacement to ensure a smooth transition. Kai Eide, a Norwegian career diplomat with long stints at NATO, started work as the United Nations envoy to Afghanistan in March 2008. “I am not resigning… what I have done is to reaffirm that I do not intend to stay for a third year,” Eide said in a statement. He said he had underlined, when he was appointed, his intention to serve just two years. Relations between the U.N. mission in Kabul and other countries, especially the United States, have been strained since an August 20 Afghan presidential election that was marred by fraud. Eide’s deputy, former senior U.S. diplomat Peter Galbraith, was fired after accusing Eide of playing down fraud in the vote.



Newsline: Cambodian king pardons convicted Thai spy

Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni pardoned a Thai man jailed for seven years for spying on fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra during a visit to Phnom Penh, the government said. Siwarak Chothipong, 31, an employee at the Cambodia Air Traffic Service, will be released from prison Monday to his family and a delegation from Thailand’s main opposition party, a Cambodian government spokesman said. His arrest last month deepened a diplomatic crisis over Cambodia’s appointment of Thaksin as an economic adviser and its refusal to extradite the ousted leader to Thailand when he travelled to Phnom Penh last month. Cambodia expelled the first secretary of Thailand’s embassy in Phnom Penh after alleging that Siwarak had passed information to the diplomat. Thailand retaliated in kind hours later.


Newsline: US embassy in Islamabad causes chaos for locals

As the US Embassy’s security related project is nearing completion stage, vehicular traffic on a portion of the Kashmir Highway passing yards away from the Embassy and outside the diplomatic enclave, has come to a grinding halt causing great inconvenience to local travelers. The US Embassy was working day and night to complete its expansion programme envisaging a huge security related project over 28 acres of land, which may also include an airfield. The project was nearing its completion, with security related equipment shipped to Karachi for onward journey to Islamabad under the security of US private security company DynCorp, which was providing dedicated logistic services in its handling and transportation to the Embassy. It was further learnt that the security related infrastructure being set up by the United States Embassy would be equipped with hi-tech avionics.


Commentary: Trilateral Treaty of the South

Negotiations to form a trade alliance between countries of Africa, Asia and South America stepped up to a political level when ministers discussed the issue, giving the initiative a further boost. The idea of establishing a preferential trade agreement between India, the five countries of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland) and the four full members of South America’s Mercosur trade bloc (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) was first discussed formally at technical meetings in 2007. Now it is no longer an idea, but a reality.


Commentary: Zuidelijke landen werken aan handelsverdrag

Afrikaanse, Latijns-Amerikaanse en Aziatische landen onderhandelen over een zuidelijke handelsalliantie. Deze week kregen de besprekingen een nieuwe impuls. Het idee voor een preferentieel handelsakkoord tussen India, de vijf landen van de Zuidelijk Afrikaanse Douane-unie (SACU – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibië, Zuid-Afrika en Swaziland) en de vier volwaardige leden van het Latijns-Amerikaanse handelsblok Mercosur (Argentinië, Brazilië, Paraguay en Uruguay) lag voor het eerst formeel op tafel in 2007.


Commentary: Keine blinde Eile für WTO-Runde – Afrika-Gruppe fordert Entwicklungsziel ein

In Genf ist das siebte Ministertreffen der Welthandelsorganisation (WTO) nach vielen erfolglosen Anläufen mit dem Beschluss zu einer Vollendung der laufenden Doha-Runde bis Ende 2010 zu Ende gegangen. Die Afrika-Gruppe unter den WTO-Staaten warnt allerdings vor überzogener Eile. Ihr ist die Einlösung der vereinbarten Entwicklungsagenda wichtiger als ein eingehaltener Terminplan.


Commentary: “Mataifa ya Kiafrika Yanahitaji Bodi ya Ushauri Nje ya Mazungumzo ya WTO”

Tangu kabla ya kuundwa kwa Shirika la Biashara Duniani (WTO) mwaka 1995, makundi mawili ya watu yamekuwa yakitofautina: wanaounga mkono biashara huria, ambao wanaona suala la kusaka maendeleo ni la msingi zaidi, na wapinzani wa biashara huria, ambao wanaona biashara isiyokuwa na vikwazo kama sababu ya matatizo mengi ya kijamii na kiuchumi. Lakini tangu kuanza kwa mgogoro wa kiuchumi mwaka jana, kundi jipya linaanza kuibuka: wale wanaoamini mfumo wa zamani umekufa na wale wenye imani kuwa WTO inaweza kuchangia katika kupunguza umaskini na kuhifadhi mazingira, kama itafanyiwa mabadiliko. Au, ingerejea katika mamlaka yake ya awali.