Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Trump Picks Jon Huntsman To Be U.S. Ambassador To Russia

The White House announced Tuesday night that President Trump intends to nominate former Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah to be U.S. ambassador to Russia. If confirmed, Huntsman would take over a high-profile post amid ongoing probes into Russian meddling in the presidential election and potential ties between Russian officials and the Trump campaign. The White House made the announcement after it confirmed that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a separate, private conversation at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, that had not been previously disclosed. Huntsman has served as an ambassador before. Under President Barack Obama, he was U.S. ambassador to China, and under President George H.W. Bush, he was ambassador to Singapore. Huntsman also ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/19/538035020/trump-picks-jon-huntsman-to-be-u-s-ambassador-to-russia

Newsline: Moscow’s Likely New Ambassador To U.S. ‘Tough’ And ‘Not That Easy To Work With’

Washington’s most notorious ambassador is going home. Sergei Kislyak, 66, has been due to return to Russia since last year, after serving throughout the Obama years. But his departure became the subject of fierce speculation when it emerged that Kislyak had communicated with key members of President Trump’s team before he took office. Meanwhile, in Moscow, Kislyak’s replacement has been approved by two parliamentary committees and is now awaiting formal appointment by President Vladimir Putin. His name is Anatoly Antonov, a 62-year-old career diplomat known as a shrewd arms control negotiator and hard-liner on America. Like Kislyak and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Antonov belongs to a generation of Russian diplomats who started their careers during the Cold War. A native of Omsk, Siberia, Antonov worked his way through the ranks after graduating from the elite Moscow State Institute of International Relations with a doctorate in political science. What’s unusual about Antonov is that he also served as a deputy defense minister, which led the European Union to blacklist him for his role in the war in Ukraine, which began in 2014.

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/07/19/537942168/moscows-likely-new-ambassador-to-u-s-tough-and-not-that-easy-to-work-with

Newsline: Malia Obama wasn’t fired by the Spanish Embassy for smoking marijuana

It’s summer internship season and everyone loves a juicy story on a former first daughter’s internship cut short due to drug busts. At least fake news sites seem to. Don’t be fooled, though. A story that Malia Obama was fired from an internship at the U.S. embassy to Spain is fake news. A June 29, 2017, post on FreedomCrossroads.us says that the eldest daughter of former President Barack Obama was caught smoking marijuana during her internship at the Spanish embassy and sent home. “She was caught, by Embassy Security — aka the U.S. Marines — on the roof of the building burning a doobie and playing with the Ambassador’s carrier pigeons,” the story said. “Ambassador Bedard is an avid hobbyist.” Obama did intern at the embassy, in 2016, not this year. And there were no reports of her dismissal. This summer, Obama traveled with her family to Bali and Jakarta and is continuing an internship at the Weinstein Company movie studio she began in the spring.

http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2017/jul/18/freedomcrossroadsus/no-malia-obama-wasnt-fired-smoking-marijuana/

Newsline: Iran’s top diplomat accuses Trump of violating nuclear deal

Iran’s top diplomat Sunday accused President Trump of violating the international nuclear deal. “The United States has failed to implement its part of the bargain,” Iran foreign minister Javad Zarif told CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.” He pointed to Trump’s recent meetings in Germany with world leaders as evidence of the US violating the two-year-old deal. “President Trump used his presence in Hamburg during the G-20 meeting, in order to dissuade leaders from other countries to engage in business with Iran. That is violation of not the spirit but of the letter of the JCPOA, of the nuclear deal,” Zarif said. “I believe the United States needs to bring itself into compliance with its party of the obligation under the deal.” Trump campaigned on ripping up the “disastrous” Iran nuclear deal that was negotiated by President Obama’s administration. But Trump’s team is expected to certify as soon as Monday that Iran is in compliance with the deal, according to the Washington Post. It’s part of the routine certification required every 90 days. Zarif said Iran has held up its part of the deal as verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

http://nypost.com/2017/07/16/irans-top-diplomat-accuses-trump-of-violating-nuclear-deal/

Newsline: US Embassy says no need for diplomatic status for Russian center in Serbia

The U.S. embassy in Belgrade said there’s no need to grant diplomatic status to the Russian staff of the controversial facility in Serbia that some consider a spy base but that Moscow insists is a disaster relief center. An embassy statement obtained Saturday by The Associated Press said its representatives visited the Nis center, 200 kilometers (120 miles) south of Belgrade, this week at the invitation of the center’s management. “U.S. representatives were briefed on the current functioning of the center, but saw nothing in the activities that were shown which would indicate a need for diplomatic status,” the statement said. “The consistent demands for inviolability for the personnel and premises of the Center only raise question regarding long-term intentions for the facility.” Russia has denied speculation they are eavesdropping on American military interests in the Balkans from the so-called “Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Center,” which was formed in 2011. Moscow says the center is only for humanitarian missions.

http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/us-embassy-no-need-for-diplomatic-status-for-russian-center/

Newsline: Russia says too many U.S. spies work in Moscow embassy

Russia said on Friday that too many American spies operated in Moscow under diplomatic cover and said it might expel some of them to retaliate against the United States over Washington’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats last year. The warning, delivered by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, reflects rising frustration in Moscow over the Trump administration’s refusal to hand back two Russian diplomatic compounds which were seized at the same time as some of Russia’s diplomats were sent home last year. Barack Obama, U.S. president at the time, ordered the expulsion of 35 suspected Russian spies in December, along with the seizure of the two diplomatic compounds, over what he said was the hacking of U.S. political groups during the 2016 presidential election, something Russia has flatly denied. President Vladimir Putin decided not to retaliate immediately at the time, saying he would wait to see what the new administration of Donald Trump would do. Zakharova complained on Friday that U.S. officials were not issuing visas to Russian diplomats to allow Moscow to replace the expelled employees and get its embassy back up to full strength.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-sanctions-retaliation-idUSKBN19Z0RV

Newsline: American Embassy School employee found dead in India

A 44-year-old employee of American Embassy School was found dead on the banks of the Yamuna in Kashmere Gate. The police said they suspect him to have committed suicide as there were no injury marks on his body. Vipin Chander, a resident of Nangloi who used to work as a cook at the school, had left his home around 5 a.m. on Monday leaving his phone behind. His wife Champa was half asleep when he left and thought he had gone for a stroll but when he didn’t return, the family started looking for him and later approached the police.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/american-embassy-school-employee-found-dead/article19266759.ece