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Newsline: French ambassador calls jokes on WC team ‘white supremacist’

The French ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud has called out South African comedian Trevor Noah for joking that the France team that won the World Cup last Sunday is African. “By calling them an African team, it seems you are denying their Frenchness. This, even in jest, legitimizes the ideology which claims whiteness as the only definition of being French,” Araud wrote in a letter posted on the French embassy’s Twitter account. The victory of a multicultural French team against Croatia in Sunday’s final in Moscow has reverberated across the globe, being celebrated in France and other places as a triumph for diversity, while it has fanned racist abuse in some corners. Fifteen of the 23-man French World Cup squad have family origins in Africa ranging from Cameroon to Congo and Mali, although only two of them were born in Africa and moved to France when they were still toddlers. “Africa won the World Cup,” Noah, host of The Daily Show, said in a segment on the late-night television programme this week. “I get it, they have to say it’s the French team. But look at those guys. You don’t get that tan by hanging out in the south of France, my friends.”



Newsline: Russia summons Greek ambassador over Macedonia dispute

Russia’s government has summoned the Greek ambassador to protest the expulsion of two Russian diplomats, as part of a dispute over Macedonia’s plans to become a NATO member. The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement it summoned Ambassador Andreas Friganas on Friday to express “decisive protest against continued anti-Russian statements by the Greek side.” Greece expelled the diplomats based at the Russian Embassy in Athens last week amid allegations they helped fund protests against a Greece-Macedonia agreement that would allow Macedonia to join NATO. Earlier this week, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman accused the Greek government of participating in “dirty provocations.” The Greek Foreign Ministry snapped back that “the constant disrespect for Greece must stop.”


Newsline: White House now says Trump disagrees with Russian request to question U.S. diplomat

As members of Congress weighed a measure criticizing President Donald Trump for considering a Russian request to interrogate former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, the White House again released a statement saying the president did not hold a position he had appeared to embrace. After the White House statement, the Senate unanimously approved in a 98-0 vote a nonbinding resolution Thursday offered by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that said the U.S. should refuse to make any former diplomat available to Russian investigators who say that official may have interfered in their country’s domestic affairs. McFaul reacted quickly. “98-0. Bipartisanship is not dead yet in the US Senate. Thank you all for your support,” he tweeted following the vote.


Newsline: Lawmakers condemn White House suggestion that Kremlin could interrogate former US ambassador

Lawmakers and former intelligence officials are expressing outrage over the White House suggesting it is considering a proposal from the Kremlin to potentially interrogate a group of Americans including a former U.S. ambassador. In an exchange during the White House briefing, press secretary Sarah Sanders would not rule out the possibility that the U.S. could provide Russia access to a group of Americans they have accused of being involved in a criminal plot. Asked whether the president would actually entertain the idea of having U.S. persons questioned by Russia including former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, Sanders said no agreement was made yet, but acknowledged that it was indeed a topic of the president’s two-hour private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. “There was some conversation about it, but there wasn’t a commitment made on behalf of the United States,” Sanders said. “And the President will work with his team, and we’ll let you know if there’s an announcement on that front.” However, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert was soon after asked about Sanders’ comment and shot down the “assertions by the Russian government” that it could question 11 American citizens as “absurd.” “I can’t answer on behalf of the White House with regard to that,” Nauert said. “But what I can tell you is that the overall assertions that have come out of the Russian government are absolutely absurd, the fact that they want to question 11 American citizens and the assertions that the Russian government is making about those American citizens – we do not stand by those assertions that the Russian government makes.”


Newsline: Hungary to Reopen Embassy in Tallinn

Hungary will reopen its embassy in Tallinn, according to a government resolution published in the official gazette Magyar Közlöny. The Hungarian embassy in Tallinn is set to reopen on Sept. 23. The government announced the closure of the Tallinn embassy in July 2014, but has kept the Hungarian cultural institute in the Estonian capital running. The government has also decided to open consulates-general in Manchester and Innsbruck later this year, according to the resolution.


Newsline: Arrested Russian Activist Denied Access to Diplomats by US

Russia’s embassy in the United States is demanding consular access to imprisoned Russian national Mariia Butina, 29, who is accused by US authorities of acting as an unregistered foreign agent. “As the materials of the court case are classified, the interests of this woman of Russia illustrate her need for a qualified lawyer,” the embassy wrote on Facebook, vowing to “continue to defend” her rights with legal advocacy. For more than a day, Russian officials have been demanding consular access to Butina. “We are in contact with the US authorities and demand from them consular access to the Russian citizen in order to protect her legitimate rights,” the embassy tweeted Monday after the charges against her were announced by the US Department of Justice (DOJ). Butina was arrested Sunday on the charge of “Conspiracy to Act as an Agent of a Foreign Government.” Tuesday, the DOJ added the additional charge of “Acting as an Agent of a Foreign Government.” The original charge was that of conspiracy, but the new one seems to accuse her of materially conducting the act.


Newsline: Poland demands explanation after diplomat beaten up in Russia

The Polish embassy in Moscow has demanded an explanation after a Polish diplomat was beaten up in Russia. The incident took place when the diplomat was on a plane to Moscow from the far-eastern Russian city of Irkutsk, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported, citing a spokesman for the foreign ministry in Warsaw. The assailant, who appeared to be mentally unstable, was detained after the incident, the spokesman, Artur Lompart, said, according to IAR. The Polish diplomat was provided with immediate assistance, underwent a medical examination and has since returned to Poland, Lompart said.