Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for July 20, 2011

Newsline: London imposes fine on American Embassy for President Obama’s motorcade refusal to pay traffic congestion charge

President Obama’s motorcade has been fined for not paying the congestion charge inLondon. Mayor Boris Johnson had warned Obama in May that US diplomats had not been paying the fees. American diplomats have racked up an $8.5 million bill since 2003. At the time,London’s mayor also publicly made clear that he wanted the $16 congestion charge paid for Obama’s security vehicle “The Beast” and other cars in his motorcade. “Our roads were not closed during the President’s visit so his motorcade will pay. ‘The Beast’ will pay the charge, I’m delighted to say,” Johnson said last month. However, the White House has repeatedly ignored the request for payment, according to the newspaper, and now face a $200 fine. “The Beast” escaped the congestion charge ticket because it “was travelling so slowly and closely to other vehicles in the presidential motorcade that its details could not be recorded by the street cameras,” the newspaper reported. Only one vehicle was issued with a congestion charge. The American Embassy defended its refusal to pay the charge, insisting it was “wholly in accordance” with the 1960 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. A spokesman said the treaty “prohibits the imposition of this sort of tax on diplomatic missions.”




Newsline: Israeli envoy to take same-sex partner abroad

For the first time ever the state will provide a foreign partner of an Israeli diplomat with a diplomatic passport and Israeli citizenship, and allow him to join his partner on his mission abroad. The Israeli diplomat and his non-Jewish foreign partner have been living together and raising a child inIsraelfor the past few years. This week the State of Israel decided to make an exception and grant his partner an Israeli citizenship so their family could travel together for a diplomatic mission. The two met a few years ago when the Israeli diplomat served as an envoy in an important eastern-European country. After three years the two moved toIsraeland began raising their child. After the diplomat recently learned that he was to be named ambassador to another eastern-European country, he was also forced to face the fact that his partner could not join him due to his status as temporary resident. Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon and Director General of the Foreign Ministry Rafi Barak intervened on the diplomat’s behalf and requested to grant his partner permanent status isIsraelso he may join his envoy partner. A special exceptions committee, headed by Director of the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Administration Amnon Ben-Ami, approved the unusual request.



Newsline: Australians claimJapan consulate helps abduct children

The Australian Government says it is committed to doing everything it can to return children who have been wrongfully taken fromAustralia. The issue has recently emerged as the group Australians with Abducted Children Japan, claims Japanese consulates inAustraliaare freely issuing new passports to a parent who wants to abduct their child. Australian parents say they are helpless to have their child legally returned because Japan still has not signed off on the Hague Convention, an international agreement recognising custody rights.