Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for June 6, 2018

Newsline: State Department defends ambassador to Germany after controversial remarks

The State Department defended U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell on Tuesday after he stoked controversy in Germany by saying he wanted to “empower” conservatives overseas. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters in a press briefing that Grenell “was merely highlighting that there are some parties and candidates in Europe who are doing well right now.” “We’re not supporting any political party. That’s not what we do,” Nauert clarified. “We support democracy, we support countries figuring out for themselves who they want to vote in for office.” Grenell’s comments, made in an interview with the conservative website Breitbart News, were highly unusual as American diplomats rarely, if ever, weigh in on the domestic politics of the countries where they are posted. The comments drew a furious response from many Europeans and prompted the German Foreign Ministry to request a clarification of his remarks. “What this man is doing, is unheard of in international diplomacy,” Martin Schulz, the former head of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, told national news agency DPA. “If a German ambassador were to say in Washington that he is there to boost the Democrats, he would have been kicked out immediately.” Grenell, a former United Nations spokesman and Fox News contributor who took office last month, also decried, during the Breitbart interview, what he called the “failed policies of the left,” and he credited President Trump with empowering people across the world to take on the “political class.”



Newsline: New building of US embassy’s consulate department opens in Moscow

US Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, Carl Risch, on Tuesday attended a ceremony of opening a new building of the US embassy’s consulate department in Bolshoi Devyatinsky Pereulok Str. in Moscow. He said in his speech on the occasion that construction of the consulate compound took five years and about $ 280 million. The building has more than 40 windows for interviews with the applicants for US visas. Risch said the US was acting in the spirit of good will to support consular relations with Russia. He pointed out an increase in the number of trips the Russians were making to the US and the Americans, to Russia, adding the factor facilitated economic cooperation. Risch also indicated Russian citizens had nice opportunities because really professional consular officers were working with them. He complained the US embassy was short of staff because of recent reductions in diplomatic personnel and stressed Washington’s willingness to broaden consular presence in Moscow.