Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for September, 2017

Newsline: Canada says has no plans to remove embassy staff from Cuba

Canada has no plans to change its travel advice for Cuba or to remove any Canadian staff from its embassy there, though some staff have experienced some unusual symptoms, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Friday. “Some of our diplomatic staff and their family members started to experience unusual symptoms in March 2017, including earaches, dizziness and headaches,” said Adam Austen. “All of the personnel who experienced symptoms underwent testing in Canada and the U.S. and the cause of the symptoms remains unknown. We have been working closely with Cuban authorities to ascertain the cause. We continue to monitor the situation closely and we have no plans to travel advice or remove any staff,” Austen added. The United States on Friday cut its diplomatic presence in Cuba by more than half and warned U.S. citizens not to visit because of mysterious “attacks” that have caused hearing loss, dizziness and fatigue in U.S. embassy personnel.



Newsline: Bali-bound Malaysians advised to contact embassy or consulate

Malaysians arriving in Bali for holiday or on business are advised to contact the office of the Malaysian Honorary Consul in Bali or the Malaysian Embassy here to inform of their whereabouts. Malaysian Ambassador in Indonesia Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim said this would enable the consulate or embassy to contact them in case of an emergency in view of the current status of the Gunung Agung volcano in Bali. The Indonesian authorities have issued a warning of high alert on the possibility of the volcano erupting after 50 years of being dormant. Zahrain also suggested that Bali-bound Malaysian aircraft to make a public announcement for its Malaysian passengers to inform the consulate of their whereabouts upon arriving on the resort island. The local media today reported that more than 200,000 people have been evacuated to safer ground since the volcano began emitting thick smoke.


Newsline: US to slash embassy staff in Cuba, warns travelers of hotel attacks

The United States is yanking more than half its diplomatic personnel from its embassy in Havana and warning Americans not to visit Cuba, saying it is for their own safety after a string of mysterious injuries harmed at least 21 Americans stationed there. Senior State Department officials said embassy employees have been “targeted” for “specific attacks,” a significant change from previous characterizations of what happened as simply “incidents.” “We have no reports that private U.S. citizens have been affected, but the attacks are known to have occurred in U.S. diplomatic residences and hotels frequented by U.S. citizens,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a statement. “The Department does not have definitive answers on the cause or source of the attacks and is unable to recommend a means to mitigate exposure.”


Newsline: Denmark deploys troops to Israeli embassy

The Danish military deployed troops in Copenhagen on Friday to guard the city’s synagogue and the Israeli embassy, hours ahead of the Yom Kippur Jewish holiday. The deployment was the first by troops in the Danish capital since WWII. The synagogue and the Israeli embassy have been under police protection since two deadly attacks in 2015.


Newsline: U.S. preparing plan to draw down embassy staff in Havana

The United States is crafting a plan for a drawdown of staff from the American embassy in Havana in response to still-unexplained incidents that have harmed the health of some U.S. diplomats there, U.S. and congressional officials said on Thursday. The State Department’s plan, which was being finalized and could be announced within days, would call for the departure of non-essential staff and diplomats’ families, the sources said. But it was unclear whether leaving the island would be voluntary or compulsory, and one U.S. official said some details were still being worked out. U.S. officials say 21 U.S. diplomats and family members have been afflicted by health problems of unknown origin, including hearing loss, dizziness and nausea. Several Canadians have also been affected in Cuba, a Canadian official has said. The Cuban government has denied any role and is conducting an investigation. But it has so far said it has been unable to determine the cause. Proposals for a drawdown have moved forward since U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez in Washington on Tuesday to discuss the case, which has been threatening the already fragile detente between the two former Cold War foes. The State Department is expected to stop short of saying it will close the recently reopened embassy because of the mysterious affair, despite Tillerson having said last week that such a move was under consideration.


Newsline: Protesters shutdown US Embassy in Nigeria

Protesters drawn from various civil society organizations, Thursday, stormed the United States of America’s Embassy in Abuja over the alleged support of the country for the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB. Speaking at the protest ground, Comrade Richard Augustine, National Coordinator of the protesting group, Stand Up For Peace Movement, said it was annoying that a spokesperson for the US Embassy in Abuja publicly came out to counter the Nigerian government for labeling IPOB as a terrorist group.


Newsline: US Embassy protesters jailed in Myanmar

Four accused people, including Win Ko Ko Latt, who led a protest in front of the US Embassy in Yangon over the United States’ use of the word “Rohingya,” were sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment on Thursday by Kamayut township court. “In making protests, because the protesters shouted that US government was a 420 government (which refers to section 420 of the penal code on cheating), it affected bilateral goodwill and peace and tranquillity. Moreover it frightened the public and they were convicted of committing a crime,” said Kamayut Judge Daw Soe Soe Moe. The four accused, including Win Ko Ko Latt, were convicted and sentenced by Judge Daw Soe Soe Moe to six months’ imprisonment under penal code 505(b) and one month imprisonment under section 19 of the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law, with days in custody deducted.