Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Asia

Newsline: China’s top diplomat says cooperation with Iran to continue

China will continue its cooperation and relations with Iran, state news agency Xinhua reported, citing a statement from Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 deal in which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for the lifting of most Western sanctions, is in line with the international community’s “common interest”, the Chinese diplomat said in a phone conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, according to Xinhua. “We have openly indicated that we oppose the wrong practices of unilateral sanctions and ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ in international relations,” Wang Yi was quoted as saying. Beijing has cultivated close commercial links with Tehran, especially in the energy sector. China’s ties with Tehran are open, transparent and lawful, its foreign ministry said earlier in August, after U.S. President Donald Trump said companies doing business with Iran would be barred from the United States.



Newsline: Chinese embassy warns tourists to be on guard against hippos in Kenya

The Chinese Embassy in Kenya has warned travelers to be alert to dangers in visiting wildlife after a tourist from China’s Taiwan died while another was injured in an attack by a hippopotamus on the shores of Lake Naivasha. The two tourists were taking photos when they were attacked by the hippo at around 3 p.m. on Saturday at Sopa Resort about 95 km northwest of Nairobi. The embassy’s statement said it’s important for tourists to be on guard against dangers, noting several incidents of hippos attacking Chinese here in recent years. Tourists are urged not to get close to hippos, especially calves, or feed them because the huge mammals may attack rapidly and have a powerful bite once they feel threatened, which can include startling them with a camera flash. The embassy also suggests tourists be mindful of wild animals in the reserve areas of Kenya such as lions, cheetahs and rhinos.


Newsline: Bangladesh spars with U.S. Embassy over students’ road safety protests

Bangladesh’s information minister accused the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday of “poking its nose” into the country’s domestic affairs, as he responded to a Facebook post that criticized authorities’ heavy-handed response to road safety protests by students. The minister’s rebuke marked the latest shot in Bangladesh’s increasingly fraught relations with Washington. It came as the government faced embarrassing but now ebbing student protests in Dhaka. Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said the U.S. Embassy in its Facebook post was “poking its nose in Bangladesh’s internal politics in an indecent way,” adding: “We condemn this.” In huge demonstrations over the past week, tens of thousands of university students and schoolchildren protested what they see as Bangladeshi authorities’ lax enforcement of road rules after two students were killed by a speeding bus. They blocked roads and checked drivers’ licenses to highlight how poorly traffic rules are enforced. Among those caught breaking rules were government ministers. In one instance, protesters asked a minister to walk to his destination because his driver was not carrying a valid license. Another minister’s car was turned back for driving against the flow of traffic on a busy road.


Newsline: Vehicle Carrying US Ambassador to Bangladesh Attacked in Dhaka

A vehicle carrying the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Marcia Bernicat was the subject of a late-night attack in the capital Dhaka, on Saturday as she was leaving a farewell dinner for the chief of a nongovernmental organization. A statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka said the official vehicle transporting the Ambassador was “attacked by a group of armed adult men, some on motorcycles in the Mohammadpur area,” adding that the Ambassador and her security team “departed the area unharmed.” “We can confirm there was a protest near an event the Ambassador was attending this evening. The Ambassador left unharmed and has returned home safely,” the statement said. The U.S. Embassy in Dhaka expressed its appreciation to police for their “quick and professional response following the incident.” On Sunday, a State Department spokesman released a statement, saying, “There were no injuries to the ambassador, her drivers, or security staff. However, two security vehicles sustained some damage.”


Newsline: China tells consulates in Hong Kong, Macau to use only one city in official title

Beijing has asked foreign diplomatic missions which serve both Hong Kong and Macau from a single consulate to remove the name of the city which is not their main base from their official title. But the reason for the policy change has yet to be explained. The request, sent in a note to diplomatic corps in both special administrative regions from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was made “several months ago” and contained a list of countries in both cities to which it applied, according to a consular source in Macau. The source described the list of countries affected as “not exhaustive, but extensive”, adding that it included consulates from European countries and elsewhere around the world.


Newsline: Russian Ambassador Defends Iran’s Role in Syria on Israeli TV

Russia cannot compel Iranian forces to quit Syria, Moscow’s ambassador to Tel Aviv said on Monday, rebuffing Israel’s long-standing demand that it should work to ensure their total withdrawal from the country. “They are playing a very, very important role in our common and joint effort to eliminate terrorists in Syria,” Ambassador Anatoly Viktorov told Israel’s Channel 10 television in an interview. “That is why, for this period of time, we see as non-realistic any demands to expel any foreign troops from the entirety of the Syrian Arab Republic,” he said.


Newsline: Afghanistan’s Taliban sources confirm Qatar meeting with senior US diplomat

Taliban officials met secretly with a senior US diplomat in Qatar last week, sources in the group have told the BBC. The face-to-face talks in Doha with Alice Wells, a state department deputy assistant secretary, were “very important”, one Taliban official said. News of the meeting follows a directive from the Trump administration for US diplomats to talk directly with the Afghan militant group. The Taliban have long said that only with the US will they discuss peace. Direct talks with the militants, without Afghan officials present, marks a major turnaround in Washington’s policy as it seeks to end America’s longest war. It comes after an unprecedented three-day ceasefire during Eid celebrations in June that was largely respected by both sides. There have been attacks since, including one on army check points in Badghis province. The meeting was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Two senior Taliban sources confirmed it to the BBC’s Mahfouz Zubaide, in Kabul. They said a six-member delegation was led by Abbas Stanikzai, who heads the group’s political office in Doha.