Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Australia/Oceania

Newsline: US embassy dragged into Canberra dog attack investigation

A dog living on a property owned by the US embassy has been linked to three separate attacks in the past 18 months, but investigations have been hampered by diplomatic considerations. No action has yet been taken over the attacks, which included one on a four-year old girl, two attacks on adult neighbours of the Stirling property, and one on another dog. The ACT’s domestic animal service confirmed it had been called to the latest attack on October 25, but said it was “currently liaising with the Australian Federal Police diplomatic liaison unit”. In that incident, Stirling woman Livia Auer was bitten on her legs and backside when two German shepherds escaped their yard at a home owned by the embassy and occupied by a diplomat. Less than an hour earlier, one of the dogs had attacked a child and her mother playing in the front yard of their home.

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/complaints-of-three-attacks-by-dog-living-on-us-embassy-property-20171113-gzko56.html

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Newsline: Australian diplomat falls to his death in New York City

A young Australian diplomat fell to his death from a New York City building, police said, reportedly as he played a trust game on a ledge. Julian Simpson, 30, was on the seventh floor of a Lower East Side building with his wife and others when he fell, landing on a second-floor terrace, New York City police said. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital. There’s no apparent criminality, police said. Simpson and others then went to a seventh-floor apartment terrace, “and Simpson offered to prove he was trustworthy by playing a trust game, going to a ledge and leaning back,” the AP reported. Simpson allegedly reached for another person’s hand, but he slipped and fell, authorities said, according to the AP. Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said in a statement today, “I extend my condolences to the family and loved ones of Julian Simpson,” saying his death occurred “in tragic circumstances in New York.”

http://abcnews.go.com/US/australian-diplomat-falls-death-york-city/story?id=51194098

Newsline: Calls to expel Iran diplomat from NZ after fiery anti-Israel speech

An Iranian diplomat has been accused of fuelling radicalism with a fiery, anti-Israel speech at an Auckland mosque. Jewish community leaders want Hormoz Ghahremani, first secretary of the Iranian Embassy, to be expelled after he appeared alongside speakers who denied the Holocaust and called for the “surgical removal” of Israel. In his speech, Ghahremani said Israel was trying to “deceive the world” by pretending to be an advocate of peace when in fact it was fuelling terrorism and extremism in the Middle East to divert attention from the Palestine issue. Members of the Jewish community say it’s outrageous that the representative of a foreign Government should make such comments. The speech was in June but has only just come to light. Juliet Moses, a spokeswoman for the Jewish Council, said the fact an Iran Government representative was making such inflammatory statements was concerning. Moses said she hoped the Government would investigate and take action against Ghahremani. “Expulsion might be an option.”

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/98300391/iran-diplomat-under-fire-for-antiisrael-speech-in-auckland

Newsline: US ambassador to New Zealand investigated over inappropriate comments

It was newly minted Ambassador Scott Brown’s first day in Samoa, and the day’s activities seemed drawn right from the foreign emissary playbook. The former Massachusetts senator and his wife had spent the day at a site with volunteers from the Peace Corps, and Brown made offhand remarks that sparked an official State Department inquiry and have critics saying he degrades women. Brown told many of the people at the function that they looked beautiful, according to the Associated Press. And he told one server in particular that back in the United States, she could make hundreds of dollars in the hospitality industry. Now, four months into his ambassadorship, Brown finds himself playing defense. In a video interview with the New Zealand news website Stuff, his wife by his side, he tried to cast his words as innocent compliments that had been taken the wrong way. The State Department and the embassies in New Zealand and Samoa didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment about the investigation.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/10/25/a-u-s-ambassador-told-a-server-she-should-cash-in-on-her-looks-an-official-inquiry-followed/?utm_term=.e596e60b6ad3

Newsline: Venezuelan skier avoids jail after assaulting embassy landlord in Canberra

A top Venezuelan skier and world-record holder who punched the landlord of his home country’s embassy in Canberra has been handed a good behaviour order over the assault. The dispute arose due to growing tensions between embassy staff and the building’s landlord, who chose to blockade entrances to the embassy with vehicles as the spat intensified. During the blockade, Cesar Baena, 30, got into an altercation with the landlord. Baena, a champion skier, said he had struck out after being taunted, and the night before the incident the wife of the landlord had driven past and said “bad words” to him. He also told the court he had felt the man had shown disrespect for his country. In court today, Baena told the court if he had a conviction against his name his international skiing career would be over, as it would limit his ability to travel.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-13/top-venezuelan-skier-avoids-conviction-after-assault/9048198

Newsline: US Embassy official robbed at police roadblock in Papua New Guinea

A US Embassy official has been robbed at gunpoint in Port Moresby after being stopped at a police roadblock. Several sources have told the ABC the male official was driving home on Friday night after having dinner at the popular Harbourside restaurant precinct when he was stopped at a police roadblock a short distance away. A man in civilian clothes, who was with the police, got into the car, produced a pistol and took the American’s phone and watch. The official was then forced to drive to an ATM and withdraw cash from his bank account. He was able to get away when the armed robber got out of the car while it was parked near a nightclub in the CBD. The victim was left traumatised by the ordeal but is not believed to have sustained any significant physical injuries. The ABC has been told the US Embassy has put a nightly curfew in place for its staff following the robbery. One source said the official’s car did not have a duress alarm, which is a common security feature in diplomatic vehicles in Port Moresby.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-10/us-embassy-official-robbed-at-police-roadblock-in-port-moresby/9035644

Newsline: Still No US Ambassador to Australia After One Year

Following the late 2016 resignation of ambassador John Berry, appointed by US President Barack Obama and “the highest-ranking openly gay official to serve in the executive branch in any US administration,” according to many sources, Canberra has not had an official representative from Washington, according to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Although the matter is viewed by government officials as a “technicality,” many in Australia are wondering if the Trump White House is not prioritizing China and other southeast Asian nations over its southern ally.

https://sputniknews.com/asia/201710011057840959-no-us-ambassador-to-canberra/