Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Regions

Newsline: US top diplomat hints at possible talks with Iran

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hinted that he was open to direct talks with Iran in the future. “In terms of whether I would ever pick the phone up, I’ve never shut off the phone to anyone that wants to talk or have a productive conversation,” Xinhua quoted Tillerson as saying. “At this point, I have no plans to call my counterpart in Iran, although in all likelihood we will talk at the right time,” said Tillerson. Iran’s incumbent moderate President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday won the presidential election by garnering 57 per cent of the votes, according to the Iranian Interior Ministry. Tillerson said he wanted Rouhani to “begin a process of dismantling” what he called “destabilizing forces that exist in this region.” Tillerson’s remarks were made during US President Donald Trump’s first official overseas trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel, Iran’s main regional rivals in the Middle East.

https://www.canindia.com/us-diplomat-hints-at-possible-talks-with-iranian-counterpart/

Newsline: New US Ambassador To The Vatican Nominated

President Trump’s choice to represent the United States at the Vatican, Callista Gingrich, has one especially prominent achievement as a Catholic: She is responsible for her husband, former House speaker Newt Gingrich, converting to Roman Catholicism in 2009. “When Newt became a Catholic, it was one of the happiest moments of my life,” she said in a 2012 interview with The New Yorker. Callista Gingrich has been an accomplished pianist since childhood and also plays the French horn. For the past 20 years, she has sung professionally in the choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. Her husband began attending mass at the Basilica largely to watch her perform in the choir, and he told the Catholic TV network EWTN in 2011 that it was that worship experience that led him to convert to Catholicism. Before marrying her, the twice-divorced Gingrich had his previous marriage annulled. Under Catholic church teaching, divorced Catholics are not supposed to receive communion unless they have their former marriages officially annulled. Newt Gingrich is one of President Trump’s strongest supporters, and Callista Gingrich may well be seen by Vatican authorities as carrying her husband’s political clout.

http://www.npr.org/2017/05/20/529276806/callista-gingrich-nominated-as-ambassador-to-the-vatican

Newsline: Russian Embassy in London joins in US murder speculation

The Russian Embassy in London has joined in the speculation surrounding the unsolved murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. The embassy tweeted an image featuring Rich and Hillary Clinton in the background, with text saying, “Who Killed Seth Rich?” The tweet also says, “#WikiLeaks informer Seth Rich murdered in US but MSM [mainstream media] was so busy accusing Russian hackers to take notice.” Rich, 27, was shot and killed on July 10, 2016, as he was walking home from a bar in Washington, D.C. Police found him still in possession of his credit cards, wallet and phone, and believe the murder was a botched robbery. On July 22, WikiLeaks released 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments belonging to the DNC. Because Rich had worked for the committee, people on the political right speculated that Rich had been behind the leak, and that the DNC or Clinton may have arranged his murder. The Russian Embassy’s tweet comes days after Rod Wheeler, a private investigator working on behalf of Rich’s family, told a Fox affiliate there was evidence that Rich had communicated with WikiLeaks. A day later, on Tuesday, Fox News reported that a “federal investigator” had corroborated Wheeler’s account, and that an FBI analysis of Rich’s computer showed he had transferred the 44,053 emails and 17,761 attachments to Gavin MacFayden, a man who had ties to WikiLeaks before he died last October.

https://www.rawstory.com/2017/05/russian-embassy-joins-in-seth-rich-murder-speculation/

Newsline: UK police say ‘obliged’ to arrest Assange if he leaves Ecuador’s embassy

British police said Friday that they would have to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for breaching his bail if he leaves Ecuador’s embassy after a Swedish rape investigation against him was dropped. The police said a warrant was issued against Assange in 2012 after he failed to hand himself in for extradition to Sweden, adding: “The Metropolitan Police Service is obliged to execute that warrant should he leave the embassy”. The Crown Prosecution Service said that breach of bail is punishable by up to a year in prison or a fine. The police statement said Assange was previously wanted for “an extremely serious offence” in Sweden and the police presence around the embassy had “reflected the serious nature of that crime”. “Now that the situation has changed and the Swedish authorities have discontinued their investigation into that matter. Mr Assange remains wanted for a much less serious offence,” it said. “The MPS will provide a level of resourcing which is proportionate to that offence,” it added. The police ended their round-the-clock guard outside the embassy in October 2015 but said they were strengthening a “covert plan” to prevent his departure. Assange has been granted asylum by Ecuador and has been able to evade justice because he is on Ecuador’s sovereign territory by being in the embassy. The policing outside the embassy has cost millions of pounds, the source of much criticism in Britain.

http://www.news24.com/World/News/uk-police-say-obliged-to-arrest-assange-if-he-leaves-embassy-20170519

Newsline: Iranian self-immolates outside embassy in Bangkok

Thai police said an Iranian man set himself on fire Friday in front of the Iranian Embassy in Bangkok to protest his country’s presidential election. The unidentified man doused himself with gasoline before lighting himself on fire outside the gate of the embassy around noon, police said. The man suffered burns all over his body and was taken to a hospital. Pol Lt Col Noppadol Samart said the man was protesting Friday’s presidential vote in Iran, though he did not know exactly what about the election the man was opposed to.

http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/iranian-self-immolates-outside-embassy-in-election-protest/

Newsline: Afghanistan Detained Two Pakistani Embassy Staffers

Pakistan on Thursday pulled out the Vienna Convention when two of its staffers in Kabul were detained for hours by Afghanistan’s intelligence agency National Directorate of Security (NDS). The two men were picked up by NDS from a stationery shop at a market. The staffers detained in Kabul were identified as Hassan Khanzada, visa assistant at the embassy, and Syed Munir Shah, staff driver. Pakistan accused Afghanistan of violating Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations (1961). “It was emphasised that such incidents undermined the constructive engagement which the two countries envisaged for strengthening of bilateral ties,” Dawn quoted Pakistan Foreign Office as saying. The embassy approached the Afghan foreign ministry and sought immediate release of the two staffers. Pakistan summoned Afghanistan’s deputy head of mission Zardasht Shams on Wednesday to lodge protest over the detention. Khanzada and Shah were finally released after three hours, it said, adding that it was unclear why the staffers were detained. The incident serves another blow to the already fraught ties between the two countries.

http://www.news18.com/news/world/two-embassy-staffers-detained-in-kabul-pakistan-invokes-vienna-convention-1405625.html

Newsline: Calls to get Turkish ambassador ‘the hell out’ the US

Sen. John McCain said the US should toss the Turkish ambassador “the hell out” after a demonstration outside the envoy’s home in Washington turned violent and several protesters were beaten bloody. “We should throw their ambassador the hell out of the United States of America,” the Arizona Republican told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday. “This is the United States of America. This isn’t Turkey. This isn’t a third-world country. And this kind of thing cannot go unresponded to diplomatically.” The clash between the peaceful protesters and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s armed security guards took place after he appeared at the White House for his fist face-to-face meeting with President Trump. He said there should be repercussions against Turkey for allowing such a violent put-down of a peaceful demonstration and called for the attackers to be identified and criminally charged. The Turkish Embassy, in a statement on Wednesday, described the protest as “unpermitted” and “provocative.” Police in Washington broke up the melee, arrested two men and are pursuing charges against several others they are trying to identify with the help of the State Department and the Secret Service.

http://nypost.com/2017/05/18/mccain-turkish-ambassador-should-get-the-hell-out/