Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Asia

Newsline: North Korean diplomat heads to Finland ahead of possible US talks

A senior North Korean diplomat left for Finland on Sunday for talks with former U.S. and South Korean officials, Yonhap News Agency reported, amid a series of diplomatic encounters ahead of a possible U.S.-North Korean summit. North Korea is pursuing its nuclear and missile programs in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions and has made no secret of its plans to develop a missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. It defends the programs as a necessary deterrent against a possible U.S. invasion. The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea but denies any invasion plans. Tensions have eased in recent weeks, coinciding with North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics held in the South last month. Choe Kang Il, a deputy director general for North American affairs at North Korea’s foreign ministry, plans to attend the “track 1.5 talks”, according to Yonhap, reflecting planned contact between former U.S. officials and current North Korean ones in a broader bid to end the standoff over North Korea’s weapons programs. South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement North Korea would participate in the meeting joined by former South Korean officials and academics but did not provide further details.



Newsline: Knife attacker shot dead outide Iranian embassy in Vienna

Heightened security measures have been ordered at embassies and other diplomatic buildings in Vienna after a soldier stationed outside the residence of the Iranian ambassador to Austria shot dead a man who tried to stab him, police said on Monday. The 26-year-old assailant’s motive for the attack, which took place around 11:30 p.m. (2230 GMT), was unclear and video footage would be reviewed, a police spokesman said. “The attacker stabbed the soldier repeatedly. He was only saved by a stab-proof vest,” the spokesman said, adding that the two men ended up grappling on the ground. “The soldier defended himself well and was then able to reach for his service weapon and fire shots,” he added.


Newsline: Four arrested after balcony protest at Iranian embassy in London

Four people were arrested after they climbed on to a first-floor balcony of the Iranian embassy in London and waved flags in an apparent protest against the government in Tehran. The four were arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage and being unlawfully on diplomatic premises, a spokeswoman for London’s Metropolitan Police said. No one was hurt during the incident and the four were arrested when they came down voluntarily after around three hours. Iran’s ambassador to Britain, Hamid Baeidnejad, tweeted that all staff at the embassy were safe.


Newsline: North Korean Embassy in Cairo accused of military sales

Egypt has purchased North Korean weapons and allowed North Korean diplomats to use their Cairo embassy as a base for military sales across the region, American and United Nations officials say. Those transactions earned vital hard cash for North Korea, but they violated international sanctions and drew the ire of Egypt’s main military patron, the United States, which cut or suspended $291 million in military aid in August. Tensions may bubble up again in the coming weeks with the publication of a United Nations report that contains new information about the cargo of a rusty North Korean freighter intercepted off the coast of Egypt in 2016. The ship was carrying 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades worth an estimated $26 million. The report, due to be released this month, identifies the customer for the weapons as an arm of the Arab Organization for Industrialization, Egypt’s main state weapons conglomerate.

Newsline: Number of staff at Mexico’s North Korean embassy down to three

Only three members of staff remain at the DPRK’s embassy in Mexico, the country announced in a February implementation report to the UN Sanctions Committee on North Korea. In a report detailing Mexico’s implementation of UNSC Resolution 2371, the Directorate-General of Protocol of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs said that while the country had hosted “five accredited diplomats” in 2016, the DPRK embassy was now “composed of three staff members.” It remains unclear whether the three remaining staff members are fully accredited diplomats, and numerous requests for further clarity to the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs went unanswered. It also remains unclear whether the reported reduction in staff also includes the North Korean ambassador, who was deported last year.


Newsline: Car bomb explodes near Australian embassy vehicles in Kabul

A car bomb has exploded near Australian Embassy vehicles travelling in Kabul, killing an Afghan civilian. No Australians were injured in the attack, the Department of Foreign Affairs said. “The Australian government extends its sympathies to families and friends of people killed and injured by this attack,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in the statement on Friday.


Newsline: Japanese Embassy in US responds to false story about Tokyo restaurant serving up human meat

There are no Tokyo restaurants offering human meat on the menu and cannibalism has not been legalized in Japan, despite a false story circulating online, writes Thomas Mattingly, a spokesman at the Japanese Embassy in Washington. The statement follows presentation of the false claims as news in a post by website worldtruth.tv, which suggested an unnamed Argentinian tourist sampled the meat at a restaurant called Edible Brother and that young people are making deals to sell their bodies in return for payments to their families. The embassy says the current story may have developed from a 2016 piece on a satire website that has many of the same details.