Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: South Koreans protesting U.S. troop presence break into U.S. ambassador’s residence

South Korean police detained 19 students after several climbed over the wall into the grounds of the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Seoul in protest against the U.S. troop presence in the country. The group, which identifies itself as a coalition of progressive university students, posted photos on its Facebook account in which several members used ladders to climb over a wall surrounding the home of Ambassador Harry Harris. In a separate video, apparently broadcast from inside the compound, they accused the United States of demanding a 500 percent increase in the cost of keeping some 28,500 troops in South Korea, holding a banner saying, “Leave this soil, Harris!” “Stop interfering with our domestic affairs!” they shouted, followed by “Get out!” and “We don’t need U.S. troops!” before being marched out of the residence by police. (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/10/19/asia-pacific/south-koreans-protesting-u-s-troop-presence-break-u-s-ambassadors-residence/#.XasfHI1RU8o) Approximately 20 South Koreans illegally entered the official residential compound of the ambassador and attempted to forcibly enter the residence itself, said embassy spokesman William Coleman in a statement on Saturday. This is the second instance of illegal entry into the ambassador’s residential compound in 14 months. South Korea’s foreign ministry said it had requested increased security for the U.S. Embassy and the ambassador’s residence.


Newsline: Chinese diplomats must notify their moves in US

Chinese diplomats in the US will have to notify American authorities before holding any meetings with US officials.China said the US was breaking international rules – but the US said American diplomats in China faced similar restrictions. The move comes amid heightened tensions between both countries. The rules would apply to “official meetings with [US] state officials, official meetings with local and municipal officials, official visits to educational institutions, and official visits to research institutions”, the state department said. An official said the US was merely “levelling the playing field” with China, and that it was a response to Chinese restrictions on American diplomats. (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-50078056) “In China, US diplomats do not have unfettered access to a range of folks that are important for us to do our job here. “In contrast, [Chinese] diplomats in the US are of course, able to take full advantage of our open society,” said a senior state department official. US officials said Chinese diplomats did not need permission for the meetings, but were required to notify the state department in advance. The eventual goal, said the official, would be for “these requirements and the requirements on US diplomats in China [to] both be disbanded.”

Newsline: Uyghur Family Under House Arrest After Abduction From Belgium’s Embassy in Beijing

The wife and children of a Uyghur man living in Belgium are under house arrest in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), months after they were abducted from the Belgian Embassy in Beijing by Chinese authorities, according to the man. Huriyet Abdulla, 43, had travelled to Beijing from the XUAR with her four children in late May seeking visas from the Belgian Embassy that would allow them to join her 51-year-old husband Ablimit Tursun in Brussels, where he was granted refugee status in late 2017 after his brother was sent to an internment camp, Tursun told RFA’s Uyghur Service. When staffers at the embassy informed her that the documents would take longer than expected to issue, she replied that she was too afraid to return to her hotel room in the city after police had visited them twice already to determine the purpose of their visit, and refused to leave the building, Tursun said. (https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/arrest-10102019142104.html) Shortly after midnight, Chinese authorities entered the grounds of the embassy, forcibly removed Abdulla and her children to their hotel, where they spent the following night, and on May 31 confiscated their phones and drove them nearly 30 hours home to the XUAR capital Urumqi.

Newsline: Russian embassy says Iran frees detained journalist

Iran has freed a Russian journalist, Yulia Yuzik, who had been detained last week, the Russian embassy in Tehran said on social media on Thursday. “As a result of joint efforts of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Embassy in Tehran, the Iranian side made a decision on the release of Russian citizen Yulia Yuzik,” it said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-russia-journalist/iran-frees-detained-russian-journalist-russian-embassy-idUSKBN1WP0FB) According to the embassy, Yuzik flew back to Moscow on Thursday morning.

Newsline: China’s Paris embassy blasts France and EU over Hong Kong remarks

Accusing the EU of having “publicly glorified the abuses of rioters”, the embassy said the EU’s call for de-escalation and restraint was “criminal and very dangerous” and amounted to an attack on the Hong Kong police’s right to self-defence. (http://en.rfi.fr/asia-pacific/20191007-china-paris-embassy-blasts-france-and-eu-over-hong-kong-remarks) The embassy reacted to remarks by a French Foreign Ministry spokesperson on October 3 and a similar statement by the EU one day earlier, expressing concern over the use by police of live rounds against the Hong Kong protesters, and saying that fundamental freedoms, including the right of assembly of Hong Kongers must continue to be upheld and the possibility to hold peaceful demonstrations must be ensured.

Newsline: Iranian media calls on Iraqis to takeover U.S. embassy amid protests

An Iranian newspaper linked to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Iraqis to seize the US embassy in Baghdad, in a move similar to the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran during the Iranian revolution of 1979, according to Radio Farda. “Historical evidence has shown that US embassies in all countries, even in friendly and allied countries, are the focus of conspiracy. The US Embassy in Iran is a clear and exemplary example of this bitter reality,” wrote Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of the Kayhan newspaper, in reference to the former US embassy that was taken over and held hostage during the revolution in 1979. (https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iranian-media-calls-on-Iraqis-to-takeover-US-embassy-amid-protests-603867) Iranian media has blamed the United States and Saudi Arabia for inciting anti-Iranian protests in Iraq. Protests broke out throughout Iraq against the deterioration of living conditions and health services, government corruption, unemployment and Iranian interference in the country.

Newsline: Russia summons Iranian ambassador over journalist’s arrest in Tehran

Russia’s foreign ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador on Friday over the detention of a Russian journalist in Tehran, ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said. Moscow has close economic and political ties with Tehran, and it is unusual for the latter to target Russian citizens. “Due to the detention in Tehran of Russian citizen Yulia Yuzik, Iran’s ambassador has been invited to the foreign ministry to facilitate a quick clarification of the circumstances of the incident and the protection of the rights of the Russian citizen,” Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-iran-journalist/russia-summons-iranian-ambassador-over-journalists-arrest-in-tehran-idUSKBN1WJ1C7) In a brief phone conversation with her mother late on Thursday, Yuzik said security forces had broken into her hotel room and detained her on suspicion of having ties to Israeli intelligence services, her ex-husband Boris Voitsekhovsky told Reuters. “The representative of Russia’s consulate is now at the Iranian foreign ministry trying to resolve this issue,” he said, adding that Yuzik had been in Iran at least once before, when she spent a few months working for a local media outlet.