Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for October 11, 2017

Newsline: US ambassador to Turkey slams Ankara over staff arrest

The US ambassador to Turkey has slammed the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the arrest of a consular staff member. The detention last week of Turkish national Metin Topuz, who works for the US Consulate in Istanbul, sparked a sudden deterioration in relations and prompted Washington to suspend all its non-immigrant visa services in the country. Ankara responded by doing the same. Topuz was arrested on terrorism charges, but little else is known about the allegations against him. US Ambassador John Bass complained Wednesday that Turkey had left the United States in the dark as to why he was detained. He added that accusing US consular employees of terror-related crimes was “a very serious allegation.” His comments are the latest in a terse exchange of words to mark deteriorating relations between the United States and Turkey. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu spoke to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday for the first time since the visa crisis began, Turkish foreign ministry sources told CNN. No further details were given.



Newsline: Russia says does not rule out slashing US embassy in Moscow’s strength to 300 people or less

Russia’s Foreign Ministry does not rule out ordering the United States to cut its diplomatic staff in Russia to 300 people or below, the RIA news agency cited Mr Georgy Borisenko, the head of the ministry’s North America Department, as saying on Wednesday (Oct 11). In July, Moscow ordered the United States to cut the number of its diplomatic and technical staff working in Russia by around 60 per cent, to 455, amid a diplomatic row. The figure of 455 was meant to mirror the total number of Russian diplomats working in the United States, but also included Russian nationals working at the United Nations in New York, Mr Borisenko told the agency.


Newsline: Greek Group Holds Sit-In at Spanish Embassy

Police say a Greek anarchist group is staging a sit-in protest at the Spanish embassy in Athens. In a posting on a left-wing website, the Rubicon group said Wednesday’s protest was held to protest the Spanish police crackdown on the Catalan independence referendum. The group added, however, that it does not support Catalan independence. The group has staged a series of brief, peaceful invasions at the offices of state institutions, political parties and private corporations to protest policies it disagrees with. Greek left-wing groups have expressed support for Catalonia’s independence drive, holding a peaceful protest at the Spanish embassy last week.


Newsline: EU Aims to Reopen Embassy in Libya

The European Union is seeking to reopen its embassy in Libya pending security conditions, officials said on Tuesday, offering further political support for the Tripoli government struggling to establish control. EU leaders will announce at their summit in Brussels on Oct. 19-20 that they “encourage work underway to rapidly establish a permanent EU presence in Libya”, according to their draft joint statement seen by Reuters. But the statement makes clear no such move is imminent as it would be conditional on improving the security situation on the ground. The EU moved its mission to neighboring Tunisia in mid-2014 as security worsened in Libya amid escalating fighting between rival factions since the 2011 fall of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi, ousted by rebels during a NATO bombing campaign. Of 28 EU states, only Italy, Libya’s former colonial master and still the most influential European state on the ground, has an embassy in the country.