Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Venezuela reopens Miami consulate

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the reopening of the country’s consulate in Miami, home to a sizeable anti-government community, before presidential elections on April 22, reversing a move by his predecessor Hugo Chavez. Speaking at the country’s Supreme Court late Wednesday, Maduro said he had received a request from Miami’s Venezuelan community to open the consulate so they could vote in the hastily arranged election, announced last week. “I have given the instruction to the foreign minister to proceed immediately to open the Miami consulate so that all Venezuelans can enroll in the electoral registry,” Maduro said.



Newsline: Scientists Seek Clues To Illness In US Staff in Cuba

They described hearing loud, unusual noises in either their homes or hotel rooms. Afterwards, they experienced concussion-like symptoms such as memory and thinking problems, headaches, dizziness and balance issues. But the exact nature of what harmed more than 20 U.S. government personnel stationed in Havana, Cuba, last year remains mysterious, reports a team led by Dr. Douglas Smith of the University of Pennsylvania. All that can be said for sure is that “we have identified a new syndrome that may have important public health implications,” Smith said.


Newsline: China’s ambassador to US says it is ‘dangerous to advocate confrontation’

It would be dangerous to advocate for confrontation against China, Chinese Ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said. “It’s certainly paranoid to fear that a China that follows its own path of development would be confrontational to the United States. And it’s dangerous to advocate any strategy for confrontation (against China),” Cui told a spring festival reception at the Chinese embassy. “It would be wishful thinking to believe that some political or cultural genetic engineering could be done to change China’s DNA,” he said. The Sino-U.S. relationship “should be characterized by overall cooperation. Friendly competition, if competition is necessary, and no confrontation,” Cui said. “We will continue to have differences between us, but our growing common interests are far more important. We may continue to have disagreements between us, but the need for cooperation will far outweigh any differences between us. We’ll continue to have problems, but dialogues will lead us to solutions,” Cui said.


Newsline: US diplomat killed while climbing Mexico mountain

An American citizen who works for the U.S. diplomatic mission in Mexico was killed while climbing Pico de Orizaba mountain, the State Department confirmed to ABC News. The staffer was climbing with another U.S. citizen and embassy employee was evacuated to a hospital, according to a Mexican official in Puebla state. “We are extremely grateful to the government of Mexico for its prompt assistance in the operation,” a State Department official said in a statement to ABC News. “Unfortunately, one of the climbers passed away. Our deepest sympathies are with his family and friends.” The embassy employee was rescued Monday afternoon and is currently hospitalized in Mexico City, according to the Mexican official. The staffer’s body has been recovered, taken down the mountain by foot Tuesday morning.


Newsline: Moscow considers Dead End address for US embassy as rival powers revive Cold War name games

Russia and America have resurrected one of their favourite Cold War games, renaming streets to inflict maximum embarrassment and tweak each other’s dignity. Moscow’s city government announced that it will examine a request to change the address of the US embassy in Moscow to 1 North American Dead-end. The proposal appears to be a tit for tat measure after Washington’s city council last month changed the name of the block housing the Russian embassy to 1 Boris Nemtsov Plaza, after the opposition politician who was shot dead near the Kremlin in 2015.


Newsline: Turkey to name street by US Embassy after its Syrian offensive

The mayor of the Turkish capital of Ankara said he had approved re-naming a street outside the U.S. Embassy as “Olive Branch”, the name Turkey uses for its ongoing military campaign in Syria. Ankara has been infuriated by Washington’s alliance in Syria with forces led by the Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey is targeting in its offensive. “We have signed the necessary proposal to change the name of the Nevzat Tandogan Avenue in front of the U.S. Embassy to ‘Olive Branch’. May it go well, may the souls of our saintly martyrs rejoice,” Ankara Mayor Mustafa Tuna tweeted. The proposal will most likely be approved, just days before U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due to visit Ankara on Thursday. The U.S. Embassy in Ankara and the Ankara mayor’s office were not immediately available for comment.


Newsline: US Embassy Gets Caught Up in Chinese Investors’ Market Rage

Frustrated investors in China are howling about recent stock market losses on the social-media accounts of foreign embassies, in one case turning a greeting by U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad for the coming Year of the Dog into a platform to protest. Messages posted by the U.S. Embassy to its official account on the Chinese social-media service Weibo have attracted thousands of stock-related comments in recent days. Posts included items about the Winter Olympics and a video Lunar New Year greeting from Mr. Branstad and his wife, in which he speaks Chinese and pets a basset hound. The embassy said in a statement Monday that it registered more than 10,000 comments about stocks pinned to its messages on Weibo, none of which had to do with the market. It said it deleted some of the nastiest ones, which violated the embassy’s terms of use.