Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for October 18, 2011

Newsline: Britain’s embassy in Tripolir eopened

Foreign Secretary William Hague has reopened Britain’s embassy in Tripoli during a visit to the Libyan capital. Sir John Jenkins has been appointed the new British ambassador to Libya. Mr Hague also held talks with National Transitional Council head Mustafa Abdel Jalil, offering a package of support and raising claims of prisoner abuse. The UK closed its embassy in February, as rebels fought pro-Gaddafi forces. Residents angry at Nato air strikes set the embassy building alight in May. The Libyan ambassador in London was ordered to leave the UKon 1 May following the attack. A small team of diplomats arrived in Tripoli at the end of August after National Transitional Council fighters seized the city from pro-Gaddafi troops. Before he met Mr Jalil, Mr Hague visited the charred embassy building, where the Union Jack was raised. Embassy staff will not initially operate from the site, which is expected to take about two years to repair. The UK also has a diplomatic office in Benghazi. Speaking after his meeting with the NTC chairman, Mr Hague said the reopening of the embassy marked “a watershed” inBritain’s relations with Libya. Although Britain is calling its special envoy an ambassador, there is not yet an official government for him to present his credentials to.




Newsline: Iran says ‘ready to examine’ U.S.plot accusations

Iran is “ready to examine “U.S. information behind accusations that Tehran plotted to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said. “We are ready to examine with deliberation any issue, even if it was fabricated. We have askedAmericato provide us with information of this scenario,” Salehi was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency. Iran has sent a letter toU.S.authorities via the Swiss embassy in Tehran asking for information about an Iranian-American inU.S.custody accused of being at the centre of the alleged plot. It also demanded consular access to the suspect. Iranian officials and leaders have fiercely denied any involvement in the alleged plot, calling it an attempt byWashingtonto divert attention from domestic economic woes and foreign policy failures in the Middle East. The head of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, said after that warning that the United States and an “increasingly hostile “Iran were on a “collision course.” The two countries broke off diplomatic ties three decades ago, ever since Islamic students in Tehran took U.S. diplomats hostage following Iran’s revolution. Today they are arch-foes battling for influence over theMiddle East. Senior Iranian lawmaker Alaeddin Borujerdi, chairman of a parliamentary foreign affairs committee, was quoted by the Fars  news agency as saying: “If the Americans are honest about the claims regarding the assassination of the Saudi ambassador, they should forward their evidence toTehran. . . through the Swiss embassy.” The United States says its chief suspect, an Iranian used-car salesman who is a naturalised U.S. citizen living in Texas, Manssor Arbabsiar, confessed to acting as an agent for his cousin, whom he described as a high-ranking official in the Quds Force that forms part of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Arbabsiar is alleged to have tried to contract a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir, possibly through the bombing of aWashingtonrestaurant. But, according to U.S. officials, Arbabsiar’s contact in the cartel was a paid FBI informant who raised the alert. The man U.S. officials say was Arbabsiar’s face-to-face contact in the Quds Force, Gholam Shakuri, alleged to be an aide to Arbabsiar’s cousin, was also charged with trying to murder a foreign dignitary with a “weapon of mass destruction.” However Shakuri was not in U.S. custody, and was believed to be in Iran. U.S. President Barack Obama has vowedIranwill “pay a price” for the alleged assassination plan.