Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for December, 2019

Newsline: U.S. embassy in Baghdad evacuated as protesters denounce U.S. air strikes

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq and other staff were evacuated from their embassy in Baghdad for their safety on Tuesday, Iraqi officials said, as thousands of protesters and militia fighters outside the gate denounced U.S. air strikes in Iraq. Outside the embassy, protesters threw stones at the gate while others chanted, “No, no, America! … No, no, Trump!” Iraqi special forces were deployed around the main gate to prevent them entering the embassy. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-security-usa/u-s-embassy-in-baghdad-evacuated-as-protesters-denounce-u-s-air-strikes-idUSKBN1YZ0IO) On Sunday, U.S. planes had attacked bases belonging to an Iranian-backed militia, a move that risks drawing Iraq further into a proxy conflict between Washington and Tehran at a time when mass protests are challenging Iraq’s political system. The attack on the Kataib Hezbollah militia was in response to the killing of a U.S. civilian contractor in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base. The two Iraqi foreign ministry officials did not say when the U.S. ambassador or other staff had left but added that a few embassy protection staff remained.

Newsline: Bolivia boots Spanish diplomats who visited Mexican mission

Spanish officials involved in a diplomatic incident left Bolivia amid accusations that they tried to help former high-ranking members of deposed President Evo Morales’ administration exit the country. Bolivian Interior Minister Arturo Murillo asked the Spaniards to leave even though Spain denied allegations that diplomat Cristina Borreguero and five of her colleagues were trying to help the officials out of the Mexican ambassador’s residence, where they have been holed up since Morales stepped down last month. (https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/world/article/Bolivia-boots-Spanish-diplomats-who-visited-14937846.php) The acting Bolivian government has initiated criminal charges against the officials for sedition, terrorism and electoral fraud and has refused to allow them safe passage out of the country.

Newsline: Swiss embassy employee in Sri Lanka granted bail

A court in Sri Lanka has granted bail to a Swiss embassy staff member who had been arrested two weeks ago on charges that she stoked anti-government sentiment and fabricated evidence, local media reported. The local television channel Sirasa reported her release, according to the Associated Press. The employee, a Sri Lankan national, claimed that she had been abducted on November 25 and threatened by her captors in an alleged effort to get her to disclose “embassy-related information”. (https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/diplomatic-spat—-_swiss-embassy-employee-in-sri-lanka-granted-bail/45463886) The incident took place a day after a senior Sri Lankan police officer arrived in Switzerland to apply for asylum. The Swiss government condemned the alleged attack as “unacceptable” and summoned the Sri Lankan ambassador. The Sri Lankan authorities have said they have evidence that contradicts the woman’s version of events. Prior to her arrest, a court blocked her from leaving the country. Upon her detention, Swiss diplomats appealed for her transfer to a hospital on health and humanitarian grounds. The Swiss foreign ministry also announced it would dispatch a Swiss diplomat, Jörg Frieden, to Colombo in a bid to break the diplomatic deadlock.

Newsline: Mexico orders ambassador in Bolivia to return after she declared non grata

Mexico’s foreign ministry said on Monday it had instructed its ambassador in Bolivia to return to Mexico to ensure her safety, after Bolivia’s government declared her a “persona non grata.” (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-bolivia-diplomacy/mexico-orders-ambassador-in-bolivia-to-return-after-she-declared-non-grata-idUSKBN1YY12C) Bolivia’s interim President Jeanine Añez on Monday ordered Mexican Ambassador Maria Teresa Mercado and a number of Spanish officials to leave the country within 72 hours.

Newsline: Iran summons Kuwait envoy in Tehran to protest about ‘anti-Iranian’ meeting

Iran summoned Kuwait’s envoy in Tehran to protest about Kuwaiti officials meeting a representative of a “terrorist group” and hosting an “anti-Iranian” meeting, Iran’s foreign ministry said in a statement on its website. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-kuwait-envoy/iran-summons-kuwait-envoy-in-tehran-to-protest-about-anti-iranian-meeting-statement-idUSKBN1YW0CU) “These kinds of actions are clear interference in the internal affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran and a violation of the principle of good neighborly relations and friendly statements from Kuwaiti officials,” the Iranian foreign ministry’s representative for the Gulf said, according to the statement. The ministry did not provide any more details about the group concerned or about which Kuwaiti officials had met the group’s representative.

Newsline: Spain to probe Mexico embassy incident that outraged Bolivia

The Spanish government is to send a team of investigators to Bolivia to establish why its diplomatic staff tried to sneak into the Mexican embassy in La Paz. Madrid said on Saturday it would probe a complaint from Bolivia’s foreign ministry who described the incident, which took place a day earlier, as a violation of its sovereignty. In a media briefing, Bolivian Foreign Minister Karen Longaric said senior Spanish diplomatic staff were escorted by hooded people and had acted “in a secretive and underhand manner” to enter Mexico’s diplomatic residence in La Paz. (https://www.dw.com/en/spain-to-probe-mexico-embassy-incident-that-outraged-bolivia/a-51822678) She questioned the motive for the pair to make the visit “accompanied by people with their faces covered and presumably armed?” It was not clear if Bolivia had derailed an attempt by Bolivian officials — who served under ousted president Evo Morales and who had sought refuge in the Mexican embassy — to leave the compound.

Newsline: Poland summons Russian ambassador over WWII spat

The Polish authorities protested “historical insinuations” made by top Kremlin officials by summoning Russian ambassador to Warsaw, Sergey Andreyev. “[W]e are ready to explain to Russian diplomats historical facts for as long as it will take for them to understand that the world will never forget the true meaning of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact,” Polish Vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, Marcin Przydacz, said on Twitter on Saturday. (https://www.dw.com/en/poland-summons-arussian-ambassador-over-wwii-spat/a-51822547) After Vladimir Putin slammed Polish envoy to Nazi Germany as an “anti-Semitic pig,” Poland summoned Russia’s ambassador. The nations dispute the role of Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact of non-aggression in the lead-up to WWII. The latest escalation comes after the European Parliament passed a resolution on the pact, saying the accord “paved the way for the outbreak of World War II,” and describing it as a deal “between the two totalitarian regimes.” Moscow has long insisted that the pact, named after German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and his Soviet counterpart Vyacheslav Molotov, was a necessary evil to delay the Nazi invasion. Modern Russia also strongly resents attempts to equalize Nazi Germany and the Stalin-led Soviet Union, whose troops caused well over half of Germany’s military losses and also paid the highest price to defeat the Nazi war machine.