Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for April 30, 2012

Newsline: US mission to China not halted over dissident

US secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner have no plans to cancel their trip to China this week, according to the State Department, amid reports that the US is protecting a fugitive Chinese dissident in its Beijing embassy. Last week legal activist Chen Guangcheng escaped house arrest in Shandong province, where he had been held since his release from prison in September 2010, Texas-based human rights group ChinaAid reported. He was imprisoned for reporting on forced abortions and sterilisations in China. Ms Clinton and Mr Geithner are due to arrive in Beijing for annual talks on Thursday and Friday. US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell arrived in Beijing yesterday — earlier than planned, reports said.



Newsline: Egypt Seeks To Woo Back Saudi Ambassador

Saudi Arabia is reported to be reconsidering the decision to recall its ambassador to Egypt, after leaders in Cairo worked to heal a rift between the Arab neighbors. The Saudis closed their mission in Egypt following anti-Saudi protests there. Egypt’s de-facto leader, Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, reached out to officials in Saudi Arabia in an attempt “to contain the situation.” Egyptian state media said he began efforts to heal the rift within hours of the Saudi decision Saturday to bring its ambassador back home. Protesters had besieged the embassy in Cairo and other Saudi missions around Egypt for several days last week, protesting the detention of Egyptian human-rights lawyer Ahmed el-Gezawi. His supporters say he is being held in retaliation for a lawsuit he filed against the Saudi monarchy over the treatment of Egyptian workers in the kingdom. Saudi officials counter that Gezawi was trying to smuggle in vast quantities of a banned anti-anxiety medication. The diplomatic rift is the worst in decades between two of the most influential Arab nations, and caught many average Egyptians by surprise.


Newsline: UK embassy investigates arrest of Briton in Sudan

The British embassy was “urgently” investigating on Sunday the arrest in Sudan of one of its citizens, who was among four foreigners the Sudanese military said it captured in the tense Heglig oil region. “We are urgently investigating the arrest of a British national in Sudan,” an embassy spokesperson told AFP. “We immediately requested consular access”. Sudanese army spokesman, Sawarmi Khaled Saad, on Saturday identified the foreigners as a Briton, a Norwegian, a South African and a South Sudanese. “We captured them inside Sudan’s borders, in the Heglig area, and they were collecting war debris for investigation,” Saad said after the four were brought to the capital Khartoum. A colleague of one of the men said they were deminers working on the South Sudanese side of the border. The four were on a de-mining mission “and one of them was from the UN”, said Josephine Guerrero, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. “We’re uncertain of the circumstances,” she added. In the most serious fighting since the South’s independence, Juba’s troops occupied Sudan’s main oil region of Heglig for 10 days, a move which coincided with Sudanese air strikes against the South. Sudan declared on April 20 that its troops had forced the Southern soldiers out of Heglig, but the South said it withdrew of its own accord. South Sudan broke away from Sudan in July last year after a peace deal ended one of Africa’s longest civil wars, which killed about two million people between 1983 and 2005.