Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for North America

Newsline: Man arrested for crashing his car into U.S. embassy in Seoul

A South Korean man was arrested for crashing his sedan into the front gate of the U.S. Embassy in central Seoul, police said. No one was hurt in the incident. Officials at the Jongno Police Station said the 40-year-old man, identified only by his surname, Park, suddenly turned his car toward the embassy gate and rammed into it Tuesday. (https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2019/06/26/Man-arrested-for-crashing-his-car-into-US-embassy-in-Seoul/2901561531856/) Some 20 cans of butane gas were found in the car. Investigators are trying to find out about his motive for the crash. They plan to seek a warrant on June 26 to formally detain him.

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Newsline: Iran’s U.N. ambassador rules out talks with US

Iran’s U.N. ambassador warned on June 24 that the situation in the Persian Gulf is “very dangerous” and called talks with the U.S. impossible in the face of escalating sanctions and intimidation, while the U.S. envoy said the Trump administration’s aim is to get Tehran back to negotiations. Recent attacks on tankers and the downing of a U.S. drone played out in comments before and after a closed U.N. Security Council meeting called by the United States that provided sharply different views of the current situation. It took place hours after President Donald Trump signed an executive order targeting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and senior Iranian military figures with financial sanctions. (https://www.marketwatch.com/story/irans-un-ambassador-rules-out-talks-with-trump-administration-2019-06-24) Iranian Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi called the new sanctions another indication of “U.S. hostility” toward the Iranian people. He said the Trump administration should de-escalate tensions by stopping “its military adventurism” in the region, withdrawing its “naval armada” and moving away from “economic warfare against the Iranian people.” Acting U.S. Ambassador Jonathan Cohen outlined the U.S. case for blaming Iran for tanker attacks May 12 and June 13 and for shooting down a $100 million U.S. drone in international airspace June 20. Iran denies it attacked the tankers and says the drone was in its airspace.

Newsline: Vehicle packed with gas canisters crashes into US embassy in Seoul

A CAR filled with explosive gas has smashed into the US Embassy in Seoul just days before Donald Trump is due to visit. The motor reportedly made a sudden turn before smashing into the compound’s gates in the South Korean capital. A 40-year-old man, named locally as Park Mo, believed to be the driver, was detained following the incident which took place at around 6pm local time. (https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9369110/seoul-car-bomb-gas-canisters-crash-us-embassy-trump-visit-south-korea/) Police said the rental car suddenly turned right and slammed into the gates of the Embassy. After examining the car a box containing 30 butane canisters was found in the boot. South Korean police are now expected to consult with the US Embassy about strengthening the site’s security. They did not say whether or not the incident was being treated as an attempted attack.

Newsline: Belgium arrests suspect over US embassy attack plot

Belgian authorities arrested a man who is suspected of planning an attack on the United States Embassy in Brussels, prosecutors announced on June 24. The Belgian man, who has only been identified by his initials “M.G.”, was taken into custody following a string of threats. He has been charged with an attempted terror attack and with “preparing a terrorist offense.” The man denies any involvement in the alleged plot. According to Belgian state broadcaster RTBF, the man had been under police surveillance and was recently seen acting suspiciously near the embassy. Further details about the case were not immediately released.

Newsline: Iran Summons Swiss, UAE Envoys Over U.S. Drone Incident

Iran has summoned the United Arab Emirates’ top envoy to Tehran to protest the neighboring Arab nation’s allowing the U.S. to use a base there to launch a drone that Iran says entered its airspace. The June 22 report by the official IRNA news agency said Iran issued a “strong protest” to the UAE diplomat, saying Iran does not tolerate the facilitation of foreign forces that violate its territory. The U.S. says its RQ-4A Global Hawk was shot down on June 20 over international waters, not inside Iranian airspace. (https://time.com/5612728/iran-uae-envoy-drone-incident/) On June 21, Iran summoned Swiss Ambassador Markus Leitner to hear Iran’s protest over the alleged violation. Switzerland looks after U.S. interests in Iran. Tehran and Washington have had no diplomatic relations since 1979. Iran says the U.S. drone was a “very dangerous provocation.”

Newsline: US began construction of three new consulates in Mexico

The United States is investing more than US $1.5 billion to build a new embassy and several consulates in Mexico including three whose construction started last month. Diplomatic staff and officials from the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations held groundbreaking ceremonies during May at sites in Guadalajara, Jalisco; Hermosillo, Sonora; and Nogales, Sonora. (https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/us-began-construction-of-three-new-consulates/) Construction of the new $374-million four-story, energy-efficient consulate in Guadalajara began in the middle of the month. Consul General Robin Matthewman said the facility in the west of the Jalisco capital will have the capacity to attend to 2,000 people per day. The $230-million consulate in Hermosillo and the $211-million facility in Nogales are both expected to be completed in 2022. Their construction will generate 750 jobs for local workers. All three new consulates will be high-security facilities equipped with cutting-edge technology. Commencement of the three new projects follows the beginning of construction in February last year of a new embassy in the Mexico City neighborhood of Nuevo Polanco. It is also expected to open in 2022.

Newsline: Tanzania slams US embassy over security alert

Tanzania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on June 20 warned the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam against issuing alarming alerts without following procedure. In a statement posted on the US embassy’s Twitter account on June 19, 2019, the US warned its citizens to take precautions over rumours of impending attacks in a tourist area in Dar es Salaam. (https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/ea/Tanzania-slams-US-embassy/4552908-5166252-599rf6/index.html) On June 20 evening, Tanzania’s Foreign Affairs ministry issued a statement saying permanent secretary Dr Faraji Kasidi Mnyepe held consultations with Ms Janine Young, a representative of the US ambassador, over the alert. According to the statement, the US diplomat was summoned to explain the alert. Tanzania says the security alert was issued without following the correct procedure, and claimed that it was targeted at the general public and not US citizens only.