Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for New Zealand

Newsline: Kuwait removed diplomat from New Zealand following alleged assault

Kuwait withdrew one of its diplomats from New Zealand following an allegation of assault. The envoy was removed after the Middle Eastern country declined to waive diplomatic immunity. The police said they were called to a central Wellington address in the early morning. “This involved an allegation of assault by a diplomat from the Embassy of the State of Kuwait.”



Newsline: Israel returns ambassador to New Zealand, ending diplomatic rift

Israel said its ambassador to New Zealand will return to his post, ending a six-month rift in relations over a United Nations resolution against Israeli settlements on occupied territory which Palestinians seek for a state. Israel recalled the ambassador in December after New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal sponsored a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlement activity. New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the two leaders spoke on the phone earlier this week, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Michal Maayan said in a statement. “I regret the damage done to Israel-New Zealand relations as a result of New Zealand proposing Resolution 2344 at the Security Council,” English wrote, according to the Foreign Ministry statement. On June 4 Israel said it was returning its ambassador to Senegal, after recalling him over the U.N. Security Council resolution. Israel does not have diplomatic ties with Malaysia and Venezuela.


Newsline: New Zealand Embassy in Washington covered $7000 booze bill for Trump bash

Taxpayers forked out more than $7000 on alcohol for guests at a glitzy party in Washington celebrating US President Donald Trump’s inauguration. According to official documents, the total bill topped $80,000 ($US58,247). New Zealand spent $750 on customised napkins for the Inauguration Gala on 17 January in Washington. Among the costs were $690 ($US478) on VIP pins, $750 ($US520) on customised napkins and $1780 ($US1235) to hire foliage. More than 320 people attended the four-hour gala on 17 January, including actors, business people and government figures, hosted by New Zealand ambassador Tim Groser. Alcohol cost less than 10 percent of the total budget at slightly more than $7000 ($US4890). The food bill topped $8240 ($US5720) and about $1800 ($US1250) was spent on valet parking. The largest cost by far was $23,670 ($US16,445) to hire furniture, followed by $8520 ($US5917) for the marquee. The total bill was covered by the New Zealand Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s public diplomacy fund. Funding came from within MFAT’s baseline budget and met standard approval criteria, the ministry said. “The event was considered as a constituency building activity to position New Zealand’s interests effectively with the new US administration and Congress.” The embassy noted it had received “positive feedback” from guests. It also touted the “key US influencers” in attendance, including Mr Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon and New Zealand-born assistant Chris Liddell. More than 320 people attended the gala in Washington, hosted by NZ ambassador Tim Groser.


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: 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: 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.