Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for September 28, 2012

Newsline: US pulls out more staffers from embassy in Libya over security fears

The State Department is further drawing down staff at the U.S. Embassy in Libya for security reasons. A senior State Department official said that the reduction in personnel at the embassy in Tripoli, which has already been operating with limited staff after the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi is expected to be temporary. The official said the security situation would be reviewed early next week with an eye toward restoring the staff “as soon as conditions allow.” The embassy warned Americans of possible demonstrations in the capital and Benghazi on Friday.



Newsline: Chinese Embassy in South Korea tops parking fine list

The Chinese Embassy owes the highest amount in parking fines among foreign missions in Korea taking advantage of diplomatic immunity, Seoul City data showed. In the first eight months of the year, the city government issued 440 tickets worth around 19 million won ($17,000) to embassies. It has so far collected only some 6.3 million won, or about 33 percent. China topped the list with fines worth more than 5.3 million won. Trailing next is Russia with about 1.3 million won, followed by Vietnam with 704,000 won, the Czech Republic and Iraq both with 560,000 won, and Iran with 416,000 won. The Chinese Embassy has yet to pay 95 percent of the fines, recording the highest amount of arrears. Coming next were the Czech Republic and Iraq which paid nothing, followed by Russia, Vietnam, Mongolia and Algeria. But the tally of overdue fines has gradually shriveled since 2009 when the Foreign Ministry imposed a ban on transferring the ownership of diplomatic vehicles with unpaid tickets, officials said.


Commentary: Embassy-sharing deal with the U.K. raises concerns

Does the British invasion into Canadian embassy services abroad (or should that be the Canadian invasion into U.K. embassies?) represent a foreign policy shift for Canada or is it merely a “small administrative arrangement”? That is a question that has led to a fair bit of speculation both before and after Foreign Minister John Baird and British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced a new deal to share embassy space Monday. The agreement will see the two countries sharing embassy space and even embassy staff in some parts of the world, although they will continue to have their own ambassadors and, both countries say, independent foreign policy. There is little reason to doubt the latter point, despite cries from the Opposition, although Canada must be careful about how the arrangement is perceived abroad. This could well save money, although that is not a foregone conclusion. It will certainly allow Canadians to have diplomatic representation in some parts of the world, including parts of Africa and the Caribbean, where there is none now, which is a good thing. But what seems to put this agreement beyond the realm of mere budgetary business-keeping is the fact that the deal was signed in such a high-profile manner — during a visit by Foreign Secretary Hague. Back in the U.K., it is perceived by some as an effort by Britain to counter a diplomatic offensive by the European Union. Should Canada be drawn into that race?