Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for May 16, 2012

Newsline: China summons UK envoy over Dalai Lama meeting

China’s Vice Foreign Minister Song Tao summoned the British ambassador in Beijing to protest British Prime Minister David Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, saying the meeting “seriously interfered” with China’s internal affairs. The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, who is considered a separatist by Beijing, met with Cameron on Monday. The meeting was, however, not held at Cameron’s official Downing St residence in a gesture to Chinese sensibilities. Song summoned British ambassador Sebastian Wood and said that British leaders should fully consider the “serious consequences” of meeting the Dalai Lama, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement. China’s response echoed many previous statements about the Dalai Lama’s meetings with foreign political leaders, suggesting that China will confine its reaction to angry words. “British ministers believe that who they see is a matter for them,” said a British Foreign Office spokeswoman in London. “If they choose to see someone, it does not necessarily indicate they support that individual’s viewpoint.” The Dalai Lama was in London to receive the $1.7mn Templeton prize for his work affirming the spiritual dimension of life.



Newsline: New Zealand’s embassy in Sweden to close

New Zealand’s embassy in Sweden will close as part of a move to slash $10 million from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Europe budget. The Stockholm post was opened by the Clark government in 2008 and downsized by the current Government in 2009. McCully said in a statement it was not always necessary to have a diplomatic presence in a country to maintain good relations. “Sweden does not have an embassy in New Zealand and I am confident that we can manage the relationship through an accreditation.” McCully said moving some embassies into less expensive accommodation is another option the ministry is considering to cut costs. “The move is part of a series of decisions that will enable the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to meet the Government’s expectations of a $24 million efficiency dividend and then manage within a flatline budget for the next two years.” McCully said the ministry’s cost-cutting plans have been scaled back following feedback from staff and ministers. “I have made it clear the final package will need to provide a structure capable of attracting and retaining capable staff,” McCully said. The Labour Party last month received leaked documents showing the Ministry is planning to halve the number of job losses it had originally announced in February. The leaked documents say the Ministry is also considering downsizing some bases to create mini-posts in Madrid, Rome, The Hague, Vienna and Warsaw.


Newsline: Fiji to open embassy in UAE

Fiji is to open an embassy in the United Arab Emirates in August. The interim foreign minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, is in Abu Dhabi to identify suitable locations for the chancery and residences for the diplomats. Ratu Inoke says opening an embassy reflects the government’s wish to expand its relations beyond its traditional partners.