Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for June 7, 2018

Newsline: Mystery illness strikes U.S. embassy workers in China, leading to evacuations

A crisis over a mysterious ailment sickening U.S. diplomats and their families — which began in Cuba and recently appeared in China — has widened as the State Department evacuated at least two more Americans from China on Wednesday. The Americans who were evacuated worked at the U.S. Consulate in the southern city of Guangzhou, and their colleagues and family members are being tested by a State Department medical team, officials said. It is unclear how many of them are exhibiting symptoms, but officials expect more U.S. personnel to be evacuated. For months, U.S. officials have been worried that their diplomats have been subjected to targeted attacks involving odd sounds, leading to symptoms similar to those “following concussion or minor traumatic brain injury,” the State Department says. The cases in China have broadened a medical mystery that started in 2016, when U.S. Embassy employees and their family members began falling ill in Havana. In all, 24 of them were stricken with headaches, nausea, hearing loss, cognitive issues and other symptoms after saying they heard odd sounds. The issue has roiled relations with Cuba, which immediately fell under suspicion, and led the United States to expel Cuban diplomats. But with Americans now exhibiting similar symptoms in Guangzhou, U.S. officials have raised suspicions about whether other countries, perhaps China or Russia, might be to blame.

https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2018/06/06/mystery-illness-strikes-us-embassy-workers-in-china-leading-to-evacuations.html

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Newsline: Vatican appears set to open first embassy in South Sudan

Pope Francis appears set to order the opening of the Vatican’s first permanent embassy in South Sudan in a gesture of solidarity with a country that has suffered a devastating civil war since 2013. The bishops’ conference for Sudan and South Sudan announced the move in a release June 6, saying it had received word from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State that Kenyan Msgr. Mark Kadima would shortly be named as South Sudan’s first resident apostolic nuncio. “I express to His Holiness heartfelt gratitude,” said Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala, president of the conference. “This step of our Holy Father truly cools the hearts of downtrodden war victims in these nations and … symbolizes the honest friendly ties between South Sudan and the Holy See.” South Sudan has had an apostolic nuncio, or Vatican ambassador, since 2013 in Archbishop Charles Balvo. But Balvo, who is originally from New York, has conducted his work from Nairobi, Kenya.

https://www.ncronline.org/news/vatican/vatican-appears-set-open-first-embassy-south-sudan