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Newsline: US ambassador to Russia to be replaced

Ambassador to Russia John Tefft, whose term expires this autumn, confirmed on Monday that former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman may soon replace him. “We are waiting for Huntsman,” Tefft told reporters on the sidelines of the Fort Ross Dialogue, a forum on US-Russian relations. “I promised I would be here for three years and I will serve my country for three years here,” he said. Media reports said in March that Jon Huntsman had accepted President Donald Trump’s offer to be envoy to Russia. John Tefft has been serving as the US Ambassador to Russia since November 2014.


Newsline: Trump feeling pressure for embassy move to Jerusalem

While the president reiterated his desire to broker a peace deal, his visit produced no announcement on steps toward renewing negotiations. “There were very substantive discussions in Israel with both Netanyahu as well as Abbas”, Tillerson told reporters aboard Air Force One. Meanwhile, Trump’s Middle East trip showed his intention to reset Obama administration’s Middle East policy by beefing up support to Saudi Arabia and Israel, regional nemesis of Iran. And in words that resonated well in Israel – which chronically accuses the West Bank Authority for inciting violence and compensating families of those involved in terror attacks – Trump made perhaps his sharpest point of the trip. Not once since becoming president, including and most glaringly during his joint press conferences with Netanyahu and Abbas during their White House visits, has Trump uttered any variant of the phrase “two-state solution”, leading to questions about his vision for what a deal would look like. Such a pact would also enable Israel to place its defensive capabilities at the disposal of states in the region with which it will be at peace. Hamas has said that Trump’s labeling it as a terrorist organization demonstrates the American president can not be a fair broker for peace.


Newsline: Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel using diplomatic facilities

Jared Kushner and Russia’s ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, according to U.S. officials briefed on intelligence reports. Ambassador Sergey Kislyak reported to his superiors in Moscow that Kushner, then President-elect Trump’s son-in-law and confidant, made the proposal during a meeting on Dec. 1 or 2 at Trump Tower, according to intercepts of Russian communications that were reviewed by U.S. officials. Kislyak said Kushner suggested using Russian diplomatic facilities in the United States for the communications. The meeting also was attended by Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. The White House disclosed the fact of the meeting only in March, playing down its significance. But people familiar with the matter say the FBI now considers the encounter, as well as another meeting Kushner had with a Russian banker, to be of investigative interest. Kislyak reportedly was taken aback by the suggestion of allowing an American to use Russian communications gear at its embassy or consulate – a proposal that would have carried security risks for Moscow as well as the Trump team. Neither the meeting nor the communications of Americans involved were under U.S. surveillance, officials said.


Newsline: Nigerians protests US police ‘violation’ of embassy

The Nigerian Embassy in Washington has protested to the U.S. Government over the violation of its premises by U.S. police following fracas between two local workers. The Acting Ambassador/Charge d’Affaires, Hakeem Balogun, told the News Agency of Nigeria that a “protest note” had been transmitted to the U.S. Department of State. Mr. Balogun condemned the violation of diplomatic protocol over altercation by two embassy drivers. “We have sent a protest note in respect of the entrance by the police into the embassy. It is against diplomatic protocols. “They are not supposed to enter the embassy. The protest letter is in respect of the entrance of the police into the embassy,” Mr. Balogun said. The Nigerian envoy also said that he “has since taken appropriate and timely, administrative and diplomatic steps to address the incident. “These measures include the immediate and indefinite suspension of the two local staff members involved in the fracas. Mr. Balogun dismissed the publication by a Nigerian newspaper alleging that “the United States police was called in to restore order in the Embassy as a result of ‘a physical fight’. The ambassador also described as baseless, claims that the fracas took place “in the full glare of dozens of guests and visa applicants”.


Newsline: US Police Called to Restore Order as Fight Erupts at Nigerian Embassy in Washington

Chaos broke out at a department inside the Embassy of Nigeria in Washington D.C. United States after two officials of the embassy began fighting. The officials are Mr. Robert Mumford Ditto, a Filipino and one Saka Ologele from Nigeria. Apparently left fuming after an argument, Ditto, angrily threw a chair at Ologele. Some officials of the embassy tried to engage with the men but the situation then escalated into a physical fight, in the full glare of dozens of guests and visa applicants. Ditto called in agents from the Washington Capitol Secret Service Police to deal with the commotion. No fewer than five police officers arrived and made their way into the embassy to restore order and calm panicky guests and visa applicants. It took the timely intervention of acting Ambassador, Mr. Hakeem Balogun, to prevent the secret service agents from arresting the officials. The acting ambassador has suspended the duo indefinitely.


Newsline: US London Embassy ‘Closely Monitoring’ Manchester Attack

The US Embassy in London is closely monitoring the attack in Manchester, England and is ready to provide consular assistance to any citizens affected by the event, a Department of State spokesperson told Sputnik. “The US Embassy in London is monitoring the situation closely,” the State Department official stated. “We stand ready to provide all possible consular assistance should we become aware of any affected US citizens.” Authorities in Manchester, England confirmed 19 have been killed and 50 others injured as a result of an explosion at Manchester Arena amid a concert by US singer Ariana Grande.


Newsline: Turkey Summons US Ambassador Over Embassy Brawl

Turkey summoned the U.S. ambassador to Ankara on Monday to lodge a formal complaint with the U.S. for how it handled a brawl outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C., last week. Protesters who were demonstrating against the visit of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were beaten by members of his security detail, though it’s still unclear how the fight started. Nearly a dozen people were injured, and the incident has threatened an already tense diplomatic relationship. Turkey’s complaint comes days after the U.S. summoned the country’s ambassador to Washington, and after several prominent U.S. lawmakers, including Arizona Senator John McCain, called on the U.S. to kick out the Turkish envoy. “We should throw the Turkish ambassador out of the country, we should identify those people that performed these unlawful acts of beating people up and they should be charged,” McCain said. Summoning the U.S. ambassador John Bass is a way for Turkey to lodge a formal complaint, but it also threatens to make an already-tense situation worse. A statement from the Turkish embassy in Washington called for a full investigation into the violence.