Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Regions

Newsline: Trump picks former U.N. spokesman Grenell for ambassador to Germany

President Donald Trump has picked former U.N. spokesman Richard Grenell as U.S. ambassador to Germany, a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity said. Grenell served as U.S. spokesman at the United Nations from 2001 to 2008, during the administration of Republican President George W. Bush. Currently, Grenell is a contributor to Fox News. His nomination as envoy to NATO ally Germany must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Trump has scolded Germany for not reaching NATO’s target for defense spending and complained about its trade surplus with the United States.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-germany-idUSKBN1A604Z

Newsline: Embassy officials visit US student detained in China over row with taxi driver

US embassy officials visited the American university student detained in China over an altercation with a taxi driver, as family and friends continue to lobby for his release. Guthrie McLean, a 25-year-old student at the University of Montana, is being held at a detention centre in Zhengzhou, Henan province. He was visited by officials from the US consulate in Wuhan, capital of Hunan, according to the office of Montana Senator Jon Tester. The officials confirmed that McLean had no “physical or mental health concerns” and had been given access to legal resources, the office said in a statement. His mother, Jennifer McLean, however, told the Associated Press: “Fine is a bit of an overstatement. He is enduring.” McLean was detained by police and charged with intentional injury after becoming involved in a dispute between his mother and a taxi driver on June 10. According to Tom Mitchell, a long-time family friend and Beijing bureau chief for the Financial Times, the driver refused to give Mrs McLean, who is deaf and teaches sign language in China, 30 yuan in change after driving her to her home in Zhengzhou. In the ensuing argument, the driver threw a 10 yuan note at the woman and things “escalated from there”. The driver then tried to snatch Mrs McLean’s bags and was “pushing her around” when her son came out from the house to see what was going on. He pulled the driver off his mother and pushed him to the ground, Mitchell said. The driver claimed he hurt his knee in the altercation, for which police demanded 100,000 yuan (US$14,800) in compensation from McLean. They later lowered the sum to 50,000 yuan. Two senators from Montana have been working with government officials from China and the US in a bid to reunite the McLeans. Senator Steve Daines visited Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the US, on Thursday to “urge a prompt resolution” to Guthrie’s case, while working with US ambassador to China Terry Branstad.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2103577/embassy-officials-visit-us-student-detained-china-over-row-taxi

Newsline: Japan officially opens Tirana embassy

Japan has officially opened its Tirana embassy with a special ceremony attended by Japan’s Minister of State for Foreign Relation, Nobuo Kishi, in addition to several Albanian officials. Minister Kishi praised Albania’s role in the region and said Japan would show a full commitment to economic and political cooperation with Albania. In meetings with Albanian leaders, Kishi said he valued the cooperation of the two countries in international organizations, good experience in supporting mutual candidacies and for the formulation of joint stances on important global issues. “The opening of the new embassy is very good news and a further signal of the strengthening and enrichment of relations between the two countries,” Albanian President Bujar Nishani said at a meeting with Kishi.

http://www.tiranatimes.com/?p=133322

Newsline: Kuwait tells Iranian embassy to cut staff after spy case

Kuwait has ordered Iran to reduce its embassy staff and close down its technical offices in the Gulf Arab state following a court case which implicated “Iranian parties” of involvement in a spy cell, state news agency KUNA said on Thursday. Last year Kuwait convicted 23 men – one Iranian and the rest Kuwaiti – of spying for Iran and Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah after a cache of guns and explosives were discovered in a raid of the so-called “Abdali cell” in 2015. In a case which stoked unusually severe tensions between the two OPEC members, Kuwait’s highest court changed some of the sentences last month. Iranian state television said Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry summoned Tehran’s ambassador and ordered the number of diplomats to be cut from 19 to four and the closure of the cultural and military missions.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-kuwait-iran-idUSKBN1A510U?il=0

Newsline: Germany summons Turkey’s ambassador over activists’ arrests

Germany’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Berlin over the arrests of human rights activists, including German citizen Peter Steudtner. The Foreign Ministry issued a sharply worded statement. The German Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Turkey’s ambassador in Berlin to protest the pre-trial detention of six human rights activists, particularly that of German citizen Peter Steudtner. “The Turkish government needs to immediately and directly hear the German government’s outrage and incomprehension as well as its crystal-clear expectations in the case of Peter Steudtner and, this time, without diplomatic niceties,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schäfer said. Schäfer said German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel had interrupted his summer vacation to attend government consultations over the Turkish court’s decision to jail Steudtner, a human rights trainer who was taken into custody earlier this month.

http://www.dw.com/en/germany-summons-turkish-ambassador-over-activists-arrests/a-39750214

Newsline: Trump Picks Jon Huntsman To Be U.S. Ambassador To Russia

The White House announced Tuesday night that President Trump intends to nominate former Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah to be U.S. ambassador to Russia. If confirmed, Huntsman would take over a high-profile post amid ongoing probes into Russian meddling in the presidential election and potential ties between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. The White House made the announcement after it confirmed that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a separate, private conversation at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, that had not been previously disclosed. Huntsman has served as an ambassador before. Under President Barack Obama, he was U.S. ambassador to China, and under President George H.W. Bush, he was ambassador to Singapore. Huntsman also ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/19/538035020/trump-picks-jon-huntsman-to-be-u-s-ambassador-to-russia

Newsline: Moscow’s Likely New Ambassador To U.S. ‘Tough’ And ‘Not That Easy To Work With’

Washington’s most notorious ambassador is going home. Sergei Kislyak, 66, has been due to return to Russia since last year, after serving throughout the Obama years. But his departure became the subject of fierce speculation when it emerged that Kislyak had communicated with key members of President Trump’s team before he took office. Meanwhile, in Moscow, Kislyak’s replacement has been approved by two parliamentary committees and is now awaiting formal appointment by President Vladimir Putin. His name is Anatoly Antonov, a 62-year-old career diplomat known as a shrewd arms control negotiator and hard-liner on America. Like Kislyak and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Antonov belongs to a generation of Russian diplomats who started their careers during the Cold War. A native of Omsk, Siberia, Antonov worked his way through the ranks after graduating from the elite Moscow State Institute of International Relations with a doctorate in political science. What’s unusual about Antonov is that he also served as a deputy defense minister, which led the European Union to blacklist him for his role in the war in Ukraine, which began in 2014.

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/07/19/537942168/moscows-likely-new-ambassador-to-u-s-tough-and-not-that-easy-to-work-with