Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for August 7, 2017

Newsline: U.S. will respond to Russia’s embassy expulsions by September

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Sunday with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, on the sidelines of a summit in the Philippines, and on Monday he said the U.S. would issue its response by Sept. 1 to Moscow’s July 30 announcement that it is expelling 755 U.S. embassy and consulate staff from Russia. Tillerson said he told Lavrov that the U.S. hasn’t yet decided on how it will respond to the expulsions, Moscow’s retaliation for new U.S. sanctions against Russia, and asked “several clarifying questions” about the Russian move. Lavrov told reporters he had explained how Russia would carry out its response, which includes closing a U.S. recreation retreat outside Moscow, but did not provide details. Russia’s response has caused some confusion, since the U.S. thought to have fewer than 755 Americans working at its Russian consulates and embassy. President Trump signed the sanctions bill last week, after it passed the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities, but has criticized it several times since. He has made no public comments about the Russian sanctions yet.



Newsline: Man accused of shooting US diplomat in Mexico faces competency hearing

A competency hearing has been scheduled for a California man accused of shooting a U.S. diplomat in Mexico. On Friday, a federal judge in Alexandria ordered the hearing for Zia Zafar of Chino Hills, California, to be held Aug. 11. Zafar is charged with attempted murder of a diplomat in the Jan. 6 shooting of consular officer Christopher Ashcraft in Guadalajara. Part of the shooting was captured on surveillance video, including footage of a man taking aim and firing at Ashcraft as he exited a parking garage. Prosecutors have offered no motive for the shooting. Court records indicate that Zafar was ordered to undergo a mental evaluation back in May. The findings of that evaluation have not been released.