Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Australia/Oceania

Newsline: New Zealand to open embassy in Ireland

New Zealand has announced plans to open its first embassy in Dublin. At present, the country is represented here by the New Zealand High Commission in London. However, there is a New Zealand Honorary Consulate-General in the capital. An estimated 14,000 Irish-born people live in New Zealand, while approximately one-in-six New Zealanders claim Irish heritage – out of a total population of 4.7 million.


Newsline: Australian embassy site in Thailand up for sale

The site of the Australian embassy in Sathorn area, almost eight rai of land, is being offered for sale by expression of interest, according to the appointed sole agent JLL. The compound covers 12,728 square metres of freehold land on South Sathorn Road, one of Bangkok’s prime commercial and residential addresses. The closing date for offers is early June.


Newsline: New Zealand asks US embassy diplomat to leave

The US embassy in New Zealand has refused to waive diplomatic immunity for one of its staff members New Zealand police want to question. An incident involving a diplomat from the US embassy was brought to the attention of New Zealand police on Sunday, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) spokesman says. MFAT was asked by police on Monday to request a waiver of immunity from the US to enable police to undertake investigations, and did so that day. The US government has on Friday declined to waive the diplomat’s immunity. Therefore, MFAT has asked the US to withdraw the staff member in question from New Zealand. Police were called to an address in Lower Hutt but the man, who works at the embassy in Wellington as a technical attache, had left, apparently nursing a broken nose and a black eye, TVNZ reported. A US government spokesman says as a matter of policy “we do not comment on the specifics of matters under investigation”. “We take seriously any suggestion that our staff have fallen short of the high standards of conduct expected of US government personnel. ”Any allegations of wrongdoing are always fully investigated.”


Newsline: Australian embassy in Washington deals with US ban

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says officials are in talks with US counterparts to get clarity on how the order may affect Australians. “The Australian embassy in Washington is engaging with US officials on the potential implications of the suspension for Australian travellers, including dual nationals,” a spokeswoman told AAP in a statement. All travellers are being warned that rules could change at short notice. “Travellers should contact the nearest embassy or consulate of the United States for the most current information,” the spokeswoman added. Australians who hold passports from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen may potentially be turned away from the US. The government’s Smarttraveller website has updated its notifications warning travellers to the US about the controversial new rules. Australians who are dual citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria will no longer be allowed to apply for the standard electronic travel authorisation – ETSA – which travellers must complete before heading to the US. The ETSA is an online application that determines entry eligibility based on security or police risks. All those affected will have to apply for a non-immigrant visa at a US embassy or consulate.


Newsline: Russian diplomat slams Australian PM’s intention ‘to shirtfront’ Putin

A Russian diplomat in Australia called the remark of Australian PM Tony Abbott about his intention to “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin “immature.” He reminded the Aussie politician that he might be “very fit” but Putin is “a professional judo wrestler.” Abbot’s scandalous remark came on Monday after he told journalists that he is going to “shirtfront” the Russian president on the sidelines of G20 summit over the tragedy of the Malaysian airliner crash in the Donetsk Region of Ukraine in July. “I am going to shirtfront Mr Putin – you bet I am – I am going to be saying to Mr Putin Australians were murdered, they were murdered by Russian backed rebels,” Abbott said. Shirtfront is a football technique for a front-on chest bump or rough handling aimed at knocking your rival backward to the ground. It’s “a reportable offence and considered illegal,” says the Australian Football Rules website. The Russian Embassy in Australia, however, didn’t let Abbot’s remark go unnoticed. Third secretary of the Russian Embassy in Canberra, Aleksandr Odoevsky, told the Australian Associated Press that the remarks of the Australian PM were “immature.”


Newsline: Malaysia denies ‘dragging feet’ over extradition of ex-envoy to New Zealand

Malaysia confirmed on Thursday (Oct 9) it has received the official request to arrange for former diplomat Muhammad Rizalman Ismail to be sent back to New Zealand to face criminal charges, and denied it is “dragging its feet on the matter”. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement said it received the request for extradition on Oct 3, about five months after the case first transpired. It has forwarded the request to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Attorney General Chambers for further action. Second Warrant Officer Muhammad Rizalman, formerly the defence staff assistant at the High Commission of Malaysia in Wellington, was charged in a New Zealand court with burglary and assault with intent to commit rape. He was arrested in Wellington after allegedly following a 21-year-old woman and attacking her in her home. The arrest sparked talks between the two countries as the Vienna Convention prevents diplomats from being arrested or detained in host countries for any crime. The ministry said it would like to reiterate that given the excellent bilateral relations between Malaysia and New Zealand, and taking into account the strong public interest in the case, the extradition request will undergo the due process of the law.


Newsline: New Zealand seeks extradition of Malaysian diplomat on sex attack charges

New Zealand officials have formally requested the extradition of a Malaysian diplomat accused of a sex attack in Wellington, Radio New Zealand reported Friday. Defense attach Muhammad Rizalman, 35, was charged in May with assault with intent to rape a woman, but claimed diplomatic immunity and fled the country. In early September, a Malaysian news website said the government there was ready to send Rizalman back to New Zealand to stand trial and it was waiting for a request from the New Zealand government to do so, said the report. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) told Radio New Zealand Friday there was no extradition treaty between New Zealand and Malaysia, but lawyers had been working through complex legal arrangements. New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully on Friday announced a ministerial inquiry into the way diplomatic officials enabled Rizalman to flee the country, after the alleged victim of the attack, who was 21 at the time, publicly called on MCully to resign over MFAT’s “incompetent” handling of the case. Rizalman was allowed to return to Malaysia — despite an official New Zealand request for Malaysia to waive diplomatic immunity — because MFAT officials had given the Malaysian authorities the impression in unofficial talks that New Zealand would not object if he left the country.