Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Iran diplomat warns of ‘all-out war’

Iran’s foreign minister warned Thursday that any attack on his country over a drone-and-missile strike on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry will result in an “all-out war,” further pushing up tensions across the Persian Gulf. (https://www.tampabay.com/news/nation-world/2019/09/19/iran-diplomat-warns-of-all-out-war-if-hit-for-saudi-attack/) The comments by Mohammad Javad Zarif represent the starkest warning offered yet by Iran in a long summer of mysterious attacks and incidents following the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, over a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord. Zarif’s comments also appeared to be in response to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who a day earlier while traveling to Saudi Arabia referred to the attack as an “act of war.” Asked by CNN what would be the consequence of a U.S. or Saudi strike, Zarif said: “All-out war.” It would cause “a lot of casualties,” he stressed. “I am making a very serious statement that we don’t want to engage in a military confrontation,” Zarif said. “But we won’t blink to defend our territory.”

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Newsline: US prepared to exchange ambassadors with Belarus after years of tensions

The United States is prepared to exchange ambassadors with Belarus, a top-ranking State Department official announced — a significant step in thawing relations between the two countries. “It is my honor to announce that we are prepared to exchange ambassadors as the next step in normalizing our relationship,” Undersecretary for Political Affairs David Hale said in a statement delivered in the capital city of Minsk. The US has not had an ambassador to Belarus since 2008, when the Belarusian government expelled the ambassador and 30 out of 35 US diplomats. (https://edition.cnn.com/2019/09/17/politics/us-belarus-ambassadors/index.html) Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko — who has been in power for 25 years and is nicknamed “Europe’s last dictator” — and more than a dozen other Belarusian officials were sanctioned by the US in 2006 after a presidential election “that violated international norms and was neither free nor fair,” according to the US State Department. President Donald Trump extended those sanctions in mid-June. In 2015, in exchange for the release of Belarusian political prisoners, the US lifted sanctions on nine state-owned entities.

Newsline: Russian embassy protests US media harassment

US media claims about alleged spying activities by staff members of the Russian embassy in Washington put the lives of Russian diplomats at risk, the Russian embassy said in a statement released on Monday. “The extensive crisis of the Russiagate that broke out after the Mueller’s report jeopardized the entire long-term Russophobic campaign in the U.S. media fueled by the so-called ‘expert community,’” the embassy said in a statement. (https://tass.com/politics/1078454) “The artificial and purely domestic political ‘assignment’ to smear Russia and unrestrained sanction hysteria are becoming clear.” “Groundless accusations against diplomats and their family members listed in the article pose a direct threat to their safety,” it said. “We intend to request clarification from the U.S. Department of State since such provocative publications can lead to acts of violence.” According to the Russian side, all those developments illustrate “the chronic inability of the host country to provide normal working conditions for our diplomatic mission.” “Earlier, no apologies were made to the Embassy and its employees for the release of their banking information (via BuzzFeed). The U.S. no longer complies with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in its affairs with official representatives of other states,” the embassy’s comment says.

Newsline: Taliban claims suicide attacks near US embassy and president’s rally

A explosion rocked Massoud Square near the Embassy of the United States in Kabul on September 17, a spokesperson for Afghanistan’s Ministry of the Interior said. (https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article235169342.html) The blast was caused by a suicide bomber, say Officials at the Ministry of Interior.

Newsline: UN Ambassador Kelly Craft takes her seat

Kelly Craft presented her credentials as the new US ambassador to the United Nations. Craft said she is coming to the organization “as a voice of America’s unwavering commitment to democracy, freedom, human rights and whenever possible peaceful resolution of conflicts.” “Strong American leadership is absolutely critical and I intend to provide it,” she said. “I will stand by our friends and allies, I will advocate for the poor and the weak.” (http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/268885) The Senate approved Craft to be ambassador to the UN last month. She previously served as US ambassador to Canada.

Newsline: Rocket fire hits complex near U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan

An explosion and thick smoke were seen early Wednesday near the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan, on the day the United States remembered the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks 18 years ago. (https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2019/09/11/Rocket-fire-hits-complex-near-US-Embassy-in-Afghanistan/7021568213495/?ur3=1) Witnesses said the strike appears to have been a rocket attack, which hit the Afghan defense ministry near the U.S. embassy grounds in Kabul, setting off a warning alarm. No injuries were reported, and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The blast occurred days after Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the United States would regret abandoning peace talks aimed at withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, where they have had a constant presence since late 2001.

Newsline: Ex-U.K. Ambassador Who Trump Called ‘Very Stupid Guy’ Named to House of Lords

Former British ambassador to the United States Kim Darroch was elevated to the House of Lords on Tuesday by former prime minister Theresa May. He was appointed to the unelected parliamentary chamber as part of a resignation honors list compiled by May. Darroch was at the center of a feud between the U.K. and the U.S. this summer after the Daily Mail published leaked wires in which the ambassador called the Trump administration as “uniquely dysfunctional” and said President Trump was “radiating insecurity.” (https://www.thedailybeast.com/kim-darroch-ex-uk-ambassador-who-trump-called-very-stupid-guy-named-to-house-of-lords-by-theresa-may) Trump called Darroch a “very stupid guy” in a series of tweets, and he later resigned from his position. Agence France-Presse reports that Darroch has been named a cross-party lord, with the right to speak and vote in the House of Lords for life. May created eight peers and 11 knights and dames on her way out of office.