Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for North America

Newsline: US embassy Denies Threatening New Zimbabwe Sanctions Over Russia Ties

The US embassy has refuted media reports claiming Washington threatened to impose new sanctions on Zimbabwe over country’s economic relations with Russia. The government last month inked a $3billion deal with Russia to establish what would be the Zimbabwe’s largest platinum mine. The US has recently imposed sanctions against Russia on allegations of providing military backing to Ukrainian separatists and generally destabilising the region. State media, at the weekend, claimed that Washington was trying to sabotage the platinum deal and threatened to tighten sanctions imposed in 2003 over allegations of rights abuse and electoral fraud. However, the US embassy in Harare told NewZimbabwe.com that there was no truth to the allegations. Embassy spokesperson, Karen Kelley, said there is no link between sanctions Washington imposed on Russia and those the country placed on President Robert Mugabe more than a decade ago. “Regarding the recent reports in the local media in Zimbabwe, I can say that there is no link between U.S. sanctions on Russia and the targeted sanctions policy on a limited number of individuals and entities in Zimbabwe.


Newsline: Ethiopia blames Eritrea for disturbance at embassy in US

The Ethiopian government has pointed its finger at arch enemy Eritrea and Ethiopian opposition groups over a disturbance that took place at the Ethiopian embassy in Washington. Ethiopia’s ambassador to the US, Girma Biru, said around 15 people had been involved in the incident, which occurred at the embassy on Monday. “They first went to the consular service office and rudely demanded to speak to the ambassador. And when the officer told them that they needed an appointment, they insulted him and went out and tried to take down the Ethiopian flag,” he said. US security forces subsequently took members of the group into custody after they refused to leave peacefully. The culprits were detained for an hour, with authorities recording their names and addresses, before they were released. According to the ambassador, no legal demonstration had been planned on the day in question and group members are known to US authorities. He further went onto saying that the culprits were mercenaries of Eritrea and Ethiopia opposition groups who are reportedly upset by the successful outcome of recent discussion between the leaders of Ethiopia and the United States on boosting cooperation in the areas of trade, peacekeeping and fighting terrorism. The ambassador said the attack was as a “desperate act” in response to the growing relationship between the two countries.


Newsline: Ethiopian diplomat flees US after embassy shooting

An Ethiopian diplomat who fired a gun at his country’s embassy earlier this week left the United States, the U.S. State Department said. The U.S. initially requested that Ethiopia waive the individual’s diplomatic immunity so that he could be prosecuted in the U.S, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said. Ethiopia reportedly denied that request, prompting the U.S. State Department to ask the diplomat to leave the country. No further details about the shooting or the individual were provided.


Newsline: Argentine President lashes out at US interim ambassador for ‘provocative’ report on crime in Argentina

Argentine President questioned the warning message issued on Tuesday by the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, saying it is “in line” with anti-government media, and seriously doubting interim ambassador in Buenos Aires Kevin Sullivan’s intentions with the note. The security message said US citizens have reported a number of crimes to the embassy and it went on to recommend that US citizens traveling and living in Argentina should “always be aware of their surroundings and maintain a high level of vigilance”. “The note is a provocation. Usually, when the embassy issues this type of warning messages, it focuses on specific events such as political rallies or hostage situations which can be dangerous to US citizens,” the Argentine president explained. “In this case, the threat is not specific. It describes Argentina as if we were living in the far-west,” she added, and went on to doubt US interim ambassador in Buenos Aires Kevin Sullivan’s intentions with the note. “Let me tell you, I’m not mad and they are not going to make me furious, as president of the 40 million Argentines, the first thing I demand is respect, that they respect us as a country”.


Newsline: US Embassy Issues Warning After Clashes in Myanmar

The US Embassy on Wednesday issued a warning to its citizens traveling in eastern Myanmar after clashes between the military and ethnic minority rebels. Various rebels groups have battled the central government in Burma since shortly after its independence in 1948. While the government has in recent years struck ceasefires with almost all factions, clashes occasionally flare up. The US Embassy said incidents over the past week included a rocket-propelled grenade attack on a bus in Karen State and the discovery of two improvised explosive devices in the Karen State town of Myawaddy on the border with Thailand. “If you see something suspicious, leave the area immediately and report it to local authorities,” the embassy posted on its Twitter account. “Do not touch, move, or tamper with any suspicious package.”


Newsline: Man Arrested After Shots Fired Near Ethiopian Embassy in Washington

The U.S. Secret Service has arrested a man who officers believe fired a gun near the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington. U.S. Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said in an emailed statement that Secret Service officers received a report of shots fired near the embassy around 12:15 p.m. Monday. When they arrived, officers detained a man believed to be the shooter. The man’s name was not released. The Secret Service said there were no reported injuries as a result of the incident.


Newsline: US Embassy gate crash driver found not guilty in Australia

A man who rammed the front gates of the United States Embassy in Yarralumla last year has escaped conviction on mental health grounds. Adrian Richardson, 30, absconded from the mental health unit at the Canberra Hospital when he drove his orange Peugeot hatchback into the embassy’s main security gate on the evening of July 10, 2013. He previously pleaded not guilty to intentionally destroying or damaging an official residence of an internationally protected person and appeared during a brief trial in the ACT Supreme Court on Tuesday. Justice John Burns told the court the case was unusual because both Crown prosecutors and Richardson’s defence team agreed on the facts of the incident and were arguing he should not be found guilty. The court heard Richardson had left the hospital’s mental health high dependency unit, where he was treated as an in-patient for five days, before he drove towards the embassy. He revved the car’s engine and accelerated into the 3.4 metre-high gates, which caused significant damage to the gates and breached the embassy’s perimeter. Richardson, who is from Queensland, was stopped by police and security guards when he got out of the car unharmed. Mental health professionals diagnosed Mr Richardson with a psychotic illness and said he suffered from a delusional disorder, the court heard. The court heard the embassy gates were later replaced at a cost of $15,200. The jury deliberated for just 15 minutes before delivering its verdict. It found Richardson not guilty due to mental impairment.