Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Americas

Newsline: US Ambassador’s Gift to Somali President Leads to Confusion

Controversy is surrounding a meeting between U.S. Ambassador to Somalia Stephen Schwartz, who was appointed by former president Barack Obama, and new Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. The controversy is not so much about the meeting but what happened during the photo opportunity when Schwartz gave Farmajo a hat bearing a slogan that appears to be derived from President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” After the meeting, the Twitter account of the U.S. Mission tweeted about the meeting posting a message that read, “US2SOM Amb Schwartz had a fruitful mtng w Pres Farmaajo 2day + presented the Pres with a cap “MAKE SOM GREAT AGAIN.” The photo attached with the message shows the two men shaking hands and holding the hat. Most Twitter users thought the gift was a diplomatic misstep; others were harsher and said the timing for such a message was inappropriate because of Trump’s recent immigration travel ban that affected seven Muslim-majority nations, including Somalia.

http://www.voanews.com/a/us-ambassador-gift-to-somali-president/3730709.html

Newsline: US to station marines at de facto embassy in Taipei

The United States will station 10 to 15 marines at the country’s de facto embassy in Taiwan, a former US diplomat said on Friday (Feb 17), in a move set to incur China’s anger. In an interview on Taiwanese radio station Hit FM, William Stanton – the director from 2009 to 2012 of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which acts as the US embassy on the island in the absence of official ties – confirmed the deployment. Another former AIT director, Stephen Young, had mentioned the plan at a seminar in Washington.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/us-to-station-marines-at-de-facto-embassy-in-taipei-confirms-ex-diplomat

Newsline: US national security adviser resigns after phone calls with Russian ambassador

National security adviser Michael Flynn resigned, citing “incomplete information” that he provided top White House officials about his dealings with the Russian ambassador. “Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice-president elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador,” Flynn wrote in a public statement. “I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.” Trump immediately named Lt. General Joseph Keith Kellogg, Jr., as acting national security adviser, the White House reported. Former acting attorney general Sally Yates warned the White House that Flynn was misleading about the interactions with the ambassador, an official told USA TODAY.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/02/13/report-justice-department-warned-trump-flynn-could-vulnerable-russians/97878198/

Newsline: Kenya police arrest US diplomat for fleeing accident scene and brandishing gun

A US diplomat has been arrested in Nairobi for fleeing the scene of a road rage clash with another driver where local police claim he brandished a gun. The diplomat, who has not been named, was disarmed by police after the incident on Sunday, according to authorities in the Kenyan capital. While it’s not clear what prompted the row, Robinson Thuku, chief of police in Nairobi’s central business district, said it was ‘obvious’ it had been a traffic incident. The US embassy confirmed his arrest but denied local authorities’ accusation he drew his gun. Police fired their weapons three times to stop the diplomat, an Associated Press photographer at the scene said. The State Department has not released the US diplomat’s name but said it was working to assist him. There was no  answer from the US embassy in Nairobi.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4216948/Kenya-police-arrest-US-diplomat-fleeing-accident-scene.html

Newsline: Trump reassures Palestinians embassy not moving to Jerusalem

US President Donald Trump responded to the King of Jordan’s request that the United States refrain from moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Arab media reported on Saturday. The Palestinian daily, Al-Quds, reported that the Trump administration transferred a message to the Palestinian Authority that the embassy would not be moving to Jerusalem. So despite constant promises from Trump that the US Embassy in Israel would be moving to Jerusalem, he has no such plans.

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Report-Trump-reassures-Palestinians-embassy-not-moving-to-Jerusalem-481238

Newsline: Trump says thinking ‘very seriously’ on Jerusalem embassy move

US President Donald Trump does not believe Israeli settlement growth in Palestinian territories is “good for peace”, he told a paper Friday, in his most direct comments on the matter since inauguration. In the interview published in Hebrew by the Israel Hayom newspaper, Trump also said he was thinking “seriously” about moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a move fiercely opposed by the Palestinians. Speaking to the newspaper ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington next week, Trump was quoted as saying he was “not someone who believes that advancing settlements is good for peace”. The international community considers settlements in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem illegal and says they risk destroying hopes for peace with the Palestinians.

http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=81376

Newsline: Ecuador presidential hopeful promises to evict Assange from embassy

Julian Assange will be given a month’s notice to leave the Ecuadorian embassy if the country’s main opposition candidate wins the presidency in next week’s election. In an interview with the Guardian, Guillermo Lasso, of the rightwing Creo-Suma alliance, said it was time for the WikiLeaks founder to move on because his asylum was expensive and no longer justified. “The Ecuadorian people have been paying a cost that we should not have to bear,” he said during an interview in Quito. “We will cordially ask Señor Assange to leave within 30 days of assuming a mandate.” Even if there is no change in power in Quito, however, it seems increasingly likely that Assange will soon be moving from the cramped embassy in Knightsbridge that has been his refuge for more than four and a half years. Although the current government has maintained its position of solidarity, all involved have grown increasingly frustrated with a situation that Ecuador’s top diplomat described as “something out of a John le Carré novel”. “Our staff have been through a lot. There is a human cost,” said the foreign minister, Guillaume Long. “This is probably the most watched embassy on the planet.” British police and intelligence have kept the embassy under close surveillance since Ecuador granted asylum in June 2012 to prevent Assange’s extradition to Sweden for questioning about a sexual assault accusation.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/09/ecuador-julian-assange-embassy-notice-eviction