Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for April 4, 2012

Newsline: Canada’s ambassador to Libya cleared of ethics charges

Canada’s former ambassador to Libya acted in an “ethical and transparent manner” during her posting in that country, according to a government report that probed her husband’s links to SNC-Lavalin. The internal review, by the Department of Foreign Affairs, clears Sandra McCardell of conflict of interest after her husband, Edis Zagorac, took a job with the engineering firm when it was doing business in the north African country before the fall of Moammar Gadhafi. McCardell has left her post and is awaiting a new deployment. “The main conclusion – is that Ms. McCardell acted overall in an ethical and transparent manner with regard to her spouse’s employment,” the report said.



Newsline: Iran Embassy in Syria Denies Abduction Reports

Several Iranian nationals have been abducted following the release of five Iranians in Syria, Tabnak news website reported on 3 April quoting websites affiliated to Syrian rebels. According to Tabnak’s Arabic service, the Syrian protestors have published a clip claiming that they have captured several Iranian nationals affiliated to the Islamic Republic Guard Corps (IRGC), who travelled to Syria to provide support to al-Asad’s government. Information published by the Syrian protesters announced that the number of the abductees was 11. This information was published by Arab sources several days after five Iranian pilgrims, who had been abducted by Syrian protesters several months ago, were handed over to Iran’s embassy in Turkey. However, another report by tabnak on the same day, rejected the above report quoting the public relations department of Iran’s embassy in Syria, describing it as “baseless.” An unnamed official from the public relations department of Iran’s embassy in Syria said: “Fortunately, we were able to release 16 of our beloved citizens despite the existing security problems and difficulties.” This official added: “At present, only 12 Iranian nationals including seven technicians and six pilgrims are in the custody of [Syrian] armed groups [protestors], and we still continue our efforts to secure their release.”


Newsline: Libyan embassy retains DC lobbying firm

The first Washington firm to sign up with the Libyan rebels during the successful revolution against Moammar Gadhafi will no longer be working for free. The Harbour Group has signed a new $15,000-per-month contract with the Embassy of Libya, according to documents the firm has filed with the Justice Department. The agreement is set to run from March 1 to the end of the year. Richard Mintz, managing director of the public-relations firm, told The Hill that he and others at the firm are eager to help Libya transition toward democracy. “We are proud to have played a modest role in helping the Libyan opposition to replace 40 years of dictatorial rule. Now we look forward to supporting free Libyans in their democratic transition,” Mintz said. Harbour Group first signed with the Libyan National Transitional Council in April of 2011. The firm worked on a pro-bono basis for the council over the past year. It helped organize visits to Washington for council leaders and contacted think tanks and media on the council’s behalf. The firm helped support Libyan Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib’s trip to Washington last month, where he met with President Obama, and is also working on having U.S. business delegations visit Libya. The new contract supersedes the agreement the Harbour Group signed last year with the council. “The Harbour Group is pleased to have been able to volunteer its services to the Libyan National Transitional Council and the Embassy of Libya for the last year in its historic efforts to establish democracy in Libya and to build new and important bridges to the United States. We welcome the opportunity to respond to your request to present this scope of services and budget to support the Embassy of Libya’s public diplomacy and communications efforts in 2012,” the contract says.