Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Germany

Newsline: Police give all-clear after bomb threat at Canadian embassy in Berlin

German police said on they had given the all-clear after employees of the Canadian embassy in Berlin evacuated their building because they had received a bomb threat. The Canadian embassy alerted police of the threat but police determined it was not to be taken seriously and employees then re-entered the building, a police spokesman said. He added that police had not ordered the embassy to be evacuated. No one at the embassy was immediately available to comment.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-canada/police-give-all-clear-after-bomb-threat-at-canadian-embassy-in-berlin-idUSKCN1BA0UZ

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Newsline: Germany expels Vietnamese diplomat as Berlin accuses Hanoi of kidnapping

Germany accused Vietnam of kidnapping a Vietnamese asylum seeker in Berlin and ordered a Vietnamese intelligence officer to leave the country within 48 hours. German Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the abduction of Vietnamese citizen Trinh Xuan Thanh on German territory is “an unprecedented and blatant violation of German and international law.” An incident of this kind has the potential to affect relations between Germany and Vietnam in a very adverse way. It is also an extreme breach of trust, the statement said. The Vietnamese ambassador had been summoned on Tuesday afternoon, and Markus Ederer, state secretary of German Foreign Ministry, expressed the German government’s views on this in no uncertain terms. Germany demands that Trinh Xuan Thanh be allowed to travel back to Germany immediately so that the application for extradition and the asylum application can be examined in due process. The official representative of the Vietnamese intelligence agencies at the Vietnamese Embassy in Berlin has been declared persona non grata and given 48 hours to leave Germany. The 51-year-old Thanh was former head of the state-owned Petro Vietnam Construction Corporation, and was accused of causing about 150 million U.S. dollars in losses. The Vietnamese government issued an international arrest warrant for him in September. German media said the asylum seeker kidnapped by armed men in the center of Berlin resurfaced on Monday in Vietnam, where state-owned newspapers reported that he had turned himself into authorities. So far, Vietnam has not responded to Germany’s expulsion of its diplomat.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-08/03/c_136494693.htm

Newsline: Domestic workers for German diplomat were overworked, underpaid in New York

Two Filipina domestic workers were underpaid by their German diplomat boss for 90-hour weeks that included scraping bird droppings from the wall of his Westchester home, the former employees charge in a new lawsuit. Sherile Pahagas, 32, and Edith Mendoza, 51, say their pay worked out to about $4 an hour from Pit Kohler, a German civil servant living in Harrison and working at the United Nations, the pair allege in court papers filed in late June with the Southern District of New York. Before the women arrived to the United States, Kohler and his wife Mareike Kohler agreed to pay them $10 per hour for a 35-hour work week, plus a room and meals. They would also be getting 1.5 times her hourly rate for over 40 hours of work, according to the court complaint. “It all turned out to be lies,” said Mendoza. According to the federal complaint, the women allege that they only ended up making $350.70 per week after being paid half the legal minimum wage, despite being promised that they would receive overtime.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/manhattan/diplomat-sued-underpaying-overworking-filipina-house-workers-article-1.3375495

Newsline: Trump picks former U.N. spokesman Grenell for ambassador to Germany

President Donald Trump has picked former U.N. spokesman Richard Grenell as U.S. ambassador to Germany, a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity said. Grenell served as U.S. spokesman at the United Nations from 2001 to 2008, during the administration of Republican President George W. Bush. Currently, Grenell is a contributor to Fox News. His nomination as envoy to NATO ally Germany must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Trump has scolded Germany for not reaching NATO’s target for defense spending and complained about its trade surplus with the United States.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-germany-idUSKBN1A604Z

Newsline: Germany summons Turkey’s ambassador over activists’ arrests

Germany’s Foreign Ministry has summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Berlin over the arrests of human rights activists, including German citizen Peter Steudtner. The Foreign Ministry issued a sharply worded statement. The German Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Turkey’s ambassador in Berlin to protest the pre-trial detention of six human rights activists, particularly that of German citizen Peter Steudtner. “The Turkish government needs to immediately and directly hear the German government’s outrage and incomprehension as well as its crystal-clear expectations in the case of Peter Steudtner and, this time, without diplomatic niceties,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schäfer said. Schäfer said German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel had interrupted his summer vacation to attend government consultations over the Turkish court’s decision to jail Steudtner, a human rights trainer who was taken into custody earlier this month.

http://www.dw.com/en/germany-summons-turkish-ambassador-over-activists-arrests/a-39750214

Newsline: Joint embassy in Bangladesh a ‘political project’ for Germany, France

The Franco-German embassy in Bangladesh is more than a building because of the political meaning it conveys, says German Ambassador Thomas Prinz. “For us it’s a political project,” the envoy said, while inaugurating the building in Baridhara together with his French counterpart Sophie Aubert on Sunday. The joint embassy building symbolises that “arch enemies can be good friends,” Prinz said. The Franco-German embassy in Dhaka brings under one roof two countries that were once bitter enemies, a first among such embassies around the world. The five-storey building was constructed using bricks of two colours – grey symbolised the French rooms while red adorned the German side. But the European Union countries will share a common entrance, visa section and meeting room, among other shared spaces. On Sep 21 of 2015, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier attended a launching ceremony of the under-construction building in Dhaka. The project was initiated in 2012. French Ambassador Aubert on Sunday said they wanted to inaugurate the joint embassy before the French National Day is celebrated on Jul 14. The two countries work together in Kuwait, but operate from a rented building. They have been planning joint embassies in Beirut, Cairo and Khartoum.

http://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2017/07/09/joint-embassy-in-bangladesh-a-political-project-for-france-germany

Newsline: Attack kills 90 near diplomatic area in Afghanistan

A huge suicide bomb ripped through a secure area of Kabul at the height of the Wednesday morning rush hour, killing at least 90 people and wounding 400, Afghan officials said. The blast, which came a few days into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, was one of the deadliest to hit the Afghan capital in recent years. The bomb exploded in the diplomatic quarter near the German Embassy and the Afghan presidential palace. The streets were packed with commuters, women shopping and children going to school and the blast appears likely to result in a high civilian death toll.

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/05/31/asia/kabul-explosion-hits-diplomatic-area/