Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 21, 2011

Newsline: Bahrain and Iran expel diplomats

Iran has expelled a Bahraini diplomat in a retaliatory move, amid an ongoing dispute linked to anti-government protests in Bahrain. Earlier, Bahrain had expelled the Iranian charge d’affaires. Tehran has criticised Bahrain’s Sunni rulers for using troops from other Gulf states to help control mainly Shia protesters. Bahrain has accused Iran, the main Shia power in the Gulf, of interference in its internal affairs. Both countries withdrew their ambassadors earlier last week.



Newsline: Vietnamese embassy still operates normally in Libya

If the situation in Libya is getting worse, the Vietnamese Embassy may move to neighbouring countries, said Vietnamese ambassador Dao Duy Tien. He said the embassies of the US and other western countries have closed while those of Asian, Latin American, and African countries are still in operation. All staff of the Vietnamese embassy located in a highliy-populated area in the capital city of Tripoli remain safe.



Newsline: Saudi Embassy in Tehran attacked

The Saudi Foreign Ministry announced that it had filed an official complaint to the government of Tehran, in response to attacks witnessed by their diplomatic mission operating in Iranian territory. Two separate attacks were recorded over a 48 hour period, against the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, and its consulate in the city of Mashhad. The Saudi Foreign Ministry on Saturday summoned the Iranian Ambassador, in order to deliver a formal complaint to him, regarding the attacks against the headquarters of the Saudi diplomatic mission in his country. The Saudi Foreign Ministry, in a statement, expressed Riyadh’s severe condemnation for the attacks against its diplomatic mission operating in Iran. On Saturday, the Saudi consulate operating in the Iranian city of Mashhad was subjected to an attack by Iranian groups, in a dangerous escalation that threatens the security and safety of Saudi diplomats working in Iran.



Newsline: Azerbaijani Embassy in Libya may shut down

The Azerbaijani Embassy’s staff in Libya can leave the country whenever need be, Azerbaijani Ambassador to Libya Agasalim Shukurov said. “The situation is serious. Rocket and bomb attacks are observed at nights, but the situation is calm in the day. The embassy staff feels well and the embassy continues to function normally. It is possible that we can leave the country as soon as possible,” Shukurov said. Shukurov said he and another three people operate at the embassy. It is not yet possible to leave the country because the air and water space are closed, he said. “The land route is more dangerous, even more dangerous than to stay in Tripoli. There are about 117 embassies here. Most have stopped their activities. The embassies of Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Jordan, Morocco, Serbia and other countries still operate. Other embassies continue their work at the level of chargé d’affaires,” Shukurov said. All Azerbaijani citizens residing in Libya have been evacuated, he added. “Azerbaijani women married to Libyans are still in the country. “They do not intend to leave, ” Shukurov said.



Newsline: Finland temporarily moves its Tokyo embassy to Hiroshima

The Finnish Embassy in Japan was temporarily moved from the capital Tokyo to Hiroshima. The purpose of the move was to secure operations of the Embassy in all situations, says Embassy official Juha Niemi from Hiroshima. Niemi and two other Foreign Ministry employees travelled to Japan to supplement the Finnish staff working at the Embassy. The Finnish Embassy in Tokyo normally has seven Finns on staff, in addition to ten Japanese hired locally. “Now some of the regular staff members are on holiday. They will rest for a while and return refreshed next week”, Niemi said. On Thursday the Foreign Ministry urged Finns to avoid travel to Tokyo and Yokohama, and recommended that Finns move to safer southern areas, where the security situation is seen as better. Finland got temporary facilities in Hiroshima in the offices of the Danish Honorary Consul. “Denmark invited the other Nordic Countries to set up in the same space. So far no other Nordic embassies besides those of Denmark and Finland have moved to Hiroshima.” Niemi says that the Finnish Embassy will operate in Hiroshima for the time being. A decision on returning to Tokyo will be made when the situation in Japan starts to clear up.



Newsline: NY Times journalists at Turkish embassy in Libya

Four New York Times journalists captured by Libyan forces while covering the conflict there are at the Turkish embassy in Tripoli and will be sent home within hours, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday. The four are two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and Beirut bureau chief Anthony Shadid, reporter and videographer Stephen Farrell and photographers Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario. The son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Seif al-Islam, said last week at least one of the correspondents was arrested by the Libyan army after it captured the city of Ajdabiya from rebels. Turkey had been involved in seeking the correspondents’ release.



Newsline: Switzerland shifts embassy in Japan

Switzerland announced it had moved its embassy in Japan from the capital Tokyo to Osaka in the south of the country, in the wake of the country’s major nuclear incident. The state department in Berne said the move was due to the ‘uncertain developments’ in greater Tokyo, and advised Swiss nationals to leave the northeast of Japan. The ministry pointed to a likely increase in exposure to radiation with a change in wind direction.