Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for March 2, 2012

Newsline: France to close embassy in Syria, says Sarkozy

President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday that France would shut its Syrian embassy due to the repression of opposition to President Bashar al-Assad and was ready to step up its support of rebels if the United Nations can give a green light. “We will do nothing without a U.N. Security Council resolution,” Sarkozy told a news conference at a European summit in Brussels, noting France supported the creation of a humanitarian zone close to one of Syria’s borders. France will close its embassy in Syria to denounce the “scandalous” repression by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday at the close of an EU summit. French Foreign Minister “Alain Juppe and I have decided to close our embassy in Syria,” Sarkozy told a news conference. He said the Syrian government’s response to attempts to evacuate two injured French reporters, Edith Bouvier and William Daniels — finally evacuated to Lebanon on Thursday — has been “particularly unacceptable”. Sarkozy also underlined that the EU in its final conclusions had recognised the Syrian National Council “as a legitimate representative of Syrians”.



Consular affairs: How to give up US Green Card

The process for renouncing your green card is straightforward enough. You will have to complete an I-407 form, which can be done either through the U.S. Embassy in Dublin or at a Customs and Border Patrol inspection area at the airport where you will present yourself for inspection into the U.S. It would likely be much easier to complete the process prior to traveling, so you should get started via the embassy. The I-407 can be downloaded online, and there is no filing fee. The I-407, titled “Abandonment of Lawful Resident Status,” is a two page form that seeks to ensure that the alien has voluntarily surrendered status. Once it is received by the embassy you can expect to be called for an interview to make sure that you are aware of the consequences of surrendering your status, and that you are doing so of your own free will. You will receive an approved I-407 which you should keep with you at all times when you enter the U.S. in the future so that your status as a tourist going forward is officially clarified. After you formally surrender your green card you will be able to enter the U.S. using the visa waiver program for a period of up to 90 days. And you will be free of any U.S. tax obligations going forward.


Newsline: Russian bank to block accounts of Iranian Embassy

Iranian Ambassador to Russia Seyed Reza Sajari said in his blog that the VTB 24 plans to block his embassy’s bank accounts. A diplomat responsible for accounts visited the bank at 3 pm, he was told that the embassy should take all cash from the account by 6 pm, otherwise it would be confiscated, the ambassador said at 0.41 am on March 2. The diplomat said that such operation is almost impossible at such short time. The bank stated that the decision was made by top-managers. He said in his blog that his credit card was blocked. VTB 24 has not commented on the issue yet.


Consular affairs: Swiss visa application centres in ten more Indian cities

Applying for visa for Switzerland will become easier as Swiss visa application centres ( VAC) will soon be opened in 10 more cities. The VACs would be opened at Chandigarh, Kolkata, Cochin, Jalandhar, Chennai, Pondicherry, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Pune and Hyderabad, in addition to the existing VACs in New Delhi and Mumbai. “Switzerland and VFS Global have partnered to open branches of Swiss Visa Application Centres (VACs) in 10 cities across India,” a statement from Swiss Embassy said. Switzerland-appointed VFS Global for outsourcing started its visa application processing services in Delhi in November 2007 and subsequently in Mumbai in August 2008. “76,700 visas were issued to Indians travelling to Switzerland in the year 2011 while the figures for 2010 stand at 61,686,” said Kurt Gruter, Acting Head of Visa section, Embassy of Switzerland, in the statement. The VACs would collect visa applications and, if necessary, arrange an interview with the Swiss Embassy in New Delhi or the Consulate General in Mumbai.


Consular affairs: British Consulate Reopens in Pattaya

It was great news for the British citizens living in Pattaya when H.E. Asif Ahmad, the British ambassador to Thailand visited our town to announce the reopening of the consulate here and to introduce the new team that will provide consular assistance and services in Pattaya and the surrounds. Leela Bennett, the vice consul in Pattaya stated that the consulate acts as a coordinating center between British nationals and the police, the embassy, the immigration, the hospitals, and their families back home. The assistance includes giving advice on passports, travel in Thailand, security, local laws, health and safety, and other issues that may arise, while more detailed paper procedures are referred back to the Bangkok office. The consulate does not provide visa services but is happy to give advice and guide the applicants to proper channels.