Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: UK Diplomat’s husband dodges jail time for domestic assault charge in New York City

He nearly dodged wife-beating raps because of his spouse’s own diplomatic immunity — and now he’ll escape jail time thanks to a plea deal. Youseff Amroche, 37, copped to one count of misdemeanor attempted assault through an Arabic interpreter and agreed to complete a batter’s program in exchange for the no-jail sentence as part of a plea deal he struck with Manhattan prosecutors. On Dec. 8, Amroche roughed up his 46-year-old wife after he became enraged over the clothes she wore the previous night, according to police. He repeatedly slapped her, dragged her through their Turtle Bay apartment and put her in a headlock, court papers charge. But police couldn’t initially arrest him because he was covered by his wife’s diplomatic immunity. She is the secretary for a UK diplomat stationed in New York City.



Newsline: Netanyahu urges Romanian PM to move embassy to Jerusalem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday urged Romania and other EU countries to follow Washington’s lead and move their embassies to Jerusalem. Netanyahu made the call during talks in Jerusalem with Viorica Dancila, the prime minister of Romania, which this month took over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union. “I hope you will act to stop the bad resolutions against Israel in the EU, and also of course to move your embassy and other embassies to Jerusalem,” Netanyahu told Dancila. “We wait for you in Jerusalem.” Last year the Romanian government, supported by the speaker of its parliament, adopted a draft proposal to move the country’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.


Newsline: India appoints ambassadors to key countries

In one of the last set of appointments before the general elections, the Modi government this week nominated ambassadors to some key countries. Sanjeev Singla, currently private secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been posted as the new ambassador to Tel Aviv, a key partner for India. Ruchira Kamboj currently high commissioner to South Africa will be India’s next Ambassador to Bhutan. Bhutan is India’s most important neighbor. Jaideep Sarkar, India’s current envoy to Bhutan will swap places with Kamboj and is headed to Pretoria as India’s new Ambassador to South Africa. Pranay Verma, joint secretary in charge of East Asia where he is in charge of China, Japan and South Korea will be the next envoy to Vietnam.


Newsline: Kuwait investigating vandalism in Bangladesh Embassy

Kuwaiti authorities are investigating Thursday’s vandalism and physical assaults on staff inside Bangladesh Embassy in Kuwait by a group of agitated Bangladeshi workers, said an official on Friday. He said the probe is being carried out through analysing CCTV footage. The Bangladesh Embassy, however, requested the Kuwaiti authorities not to harass any innocent worker during the investigation process. On Thursday, a group of Bangladeshi workers ransacked the Embassy property, including computers and TV, despite assurance from the Ambassador to address their issues through discussions. On request, members of law enforcement agencies rushed to the spot and picked up around 150 workers for questioning, said the Embassy sources.


Newsline: Britain summons Zimbabwe ambassador

Britain summoned Zimbabwe’s ambassador to register its disquiet over a crackdown on dissent by security forces in Zimbabwe. Britain’s Minister of State for Africa Harriet Baldwin revealed that she had discussed the crisis with Zimbabwe’s top diplomat in London, Christian Katsande. “Just spoken to Zimbabwean ambassador regarding this week’s protests in Zimbabwe. Worrying levels of violence – urged restraint from security forces and the need to restore internet access,” Baldwin said on Twitter. Britain’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Melanie Robinson said she had also held discussions with Zimbabwean authorities after fuel price protests triggered a brutal response by the police and military. Doctors say as many as 72 people have been treated for gunshot wounds, with several fatalities.


Newsline: Canada summons Chinese ambassador

Canada has launched an official protest against the interrogation of Michael Kovrig, the former Canadian diplomat detained in China, about his previous diplomatic work in the country, saying it violated the diplomatic immunity he is guaranteed under international law. As tensions between the two governments continued to intensify, officials in Ottawa on January 10 summoned China’s ambassador to Canada Lu Shaye to argue that Beijing must deport Kovrig or request a waiver of his diplomatic immunity, a move Ottawa would not agree to, according to a report published on Wednesday evening by The Globe and Mail. Lu, who accused Canada of “Western egotism and white supremacy” in an op-ed last Wednesday, was expected to address reporters later on Thursday. The latest protest comes amid strained relations over the arrest of Chinese technology executive Sabrina Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on December 1, followed nine days later by China’s detentions of Kovrig – now an analyst at the Hong Kong-based International Crisis Group – and Canadian businessman Michael Spavor. While Meng has been released on bail, both Kovrig and Spavor remain in detention in China, with limited consular access.


Newsline: Belgrade Court Acquits Suspects In 2008 Attack On U.S. Embassy

A Serbian court has acquitted the suspects in the 2008 arson attack on the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade. The Appeals Court of Belgrade said on January 16 that it had overturned suspended prison sentences for four suspects and confirmed an earlier acquittal of three other people by a lower court. Prosecutors failed to provide enough evidence to back the indictment, a statement said. Demonstrators tried to storm the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade and set part of it ablaze in February 2008 as tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the Serbian capital to protest Kosovo’s declaration of independence a few days earlier. A 20-year-old man died in the incident, which has burdened relations between Washington and Belgrade for years.