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Newsline: US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert may be the next UN ambassador

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert is reportedly the leading candidate to become the next US ambassador to the United Nations. President Donald Trump, at a press conference, confirmed Nauert is a contender for the job. “She’s under serious consideration,” Trump told reporters. “She’s excellent, been with us for a long time, been a supporter for a long time.” Trump added that a lot of “great people” want the position, but he’ll likely make the decision next week. A source also told Vox that Trump interviewed Nauert for the role. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley announced earlier this month that she’s planning to step down by the end of the year. During her two years in office, Haley toggled between Trump’s “America First” approach and a more traditional Republican approach to foreign policy. Nauert, a former Fox News host, joined the State Department as its top spokesperson in April 2017. She’s largely been an effective messenger for the agency, and her clout at Foggy Bottom has grown, particularly since the exit of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. From March until October of this year, Nauert also served as the acting Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, a high-ranking post at State.



Newsline: Diplomat tells UN Russia is getting ready for war if US attacks

A Russian diplomat has both confirmed and denied what US war hawks have been calling out. Moscow is indeed preparing for war, he said – just in case the US starts one. Speaking at the UN on Friday, Andrey Belousov, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Department of Nonproliferation and Arms Control, said that Russia is indeed readying itself for war, so it can defend its people against American aggression. Russia’s military build-up and large-scale drills, often painted in the Western media as preparations for all-out war, are a defensive necessity, he said. “We are preparing to defend our homeland, our territorial integrity, our principles, our values, our people.” Russia doesn’t seek a confrontation, he said, unlike the US. “Why else would the United States pull out of the [INF] Treaty, increase their nuclear potential, adopt a new nuclear doctrine that lowers the threshold for nuclear weapons use – that’s the question for us all.”


Newsline: Norwegian Diplomat Tops U.N. Shortlist For Syria Envoy

Geir Pedersen, a veteran Norwegian diplomat who cut his diplomatic teeth 25 years ago as part of the team that secretly negotiated the Oslo Middle East peace accords, has emerged as the front-runner to serve as the next United Nations special envoy for Syria, according to three well-placed diplomatic sources. The revelation comes two days after Staffan de Mistura, an Italian-Swedish dual national and diplomatic troubleshooter, announced to the U.N. Security Council that he would step down at the end of November, opening a vacancy for one of diplomacy’s most thankless jobs. Though the U.N. sought to play a central role early on in resolving the Syrian civil war, in recent years the conflict has largely fallen under the sway of Russia and Iran, which are supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military onslaught against the dwindling rebel campaign. Like the U.N., the United States and Europe have become increasingly marginalized diplomatic players and have been reluctant to commit funds for Syria’s reconstruction. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have opened their own diplomatic channel, negotiating a buffer zone last month in Idlib Province, one of the rebels’ last holdouts.

Norwegian Diplomat Tops U.N. Shortlist For Syria Envoy

Newsline: UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has resigned

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is leaving the administration at the end of the year. Trump spoke as he and Haley met in the Oval Office, shortly after word came of her plans to resign. He called Haley a “very special” person, adding that she told him six months ago that she might want to take some time off. Trump said that together they had “solved a lot of problems.” It’s the latest shake-up in the turbulent Trump administration just weeks before the November midterm elections. Haley’s resignation was a closely guarded secret. Congressional Republicans involved in foreign policy matters and some key U.S. allies did not get advance word from Haley or the White House. No reason for the resignation was immediately provided. Haley, who is speculated to hold aspirations for higher office, said at the White House: “No I’m not running in 2020.”


Newsline: Palestinians ask World Court to order US embassy out of Jerusalem

The Palestinians filed a lawsuit with the United Nations highest court asking the international body to order the United States to move its embassy out of Jerusalem. The lawsuit was filed by “the State of Palestine” with the International Court of Justice, or World Court, Reuters reported. The lawsuit argues the Vienna Convention of Diplomatic Relations of 1961 requires a country to locate its embassy on the territory of the host state. Israel’s ownership of Jerusalem, which it controls militarily, is in dispute on the international level. It asks the court “to order the United States of America to withdraw the diplomatic mission from the Holy City of Jerusalem and to conform to the international obligations flowing from the Vienna Convention.” U.S. President Donald Trump in December 2017 recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and announced that the U.S. would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The U.S. embassy was officially opened in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018 in the existing U.S. Consulate building in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood.


Newsline: State Department Spent $52,700 on Curtains for the UN Ambassador’s N.Y.C. Residence

The State Department spent $52,701 in 2017 to purchase custom, mechanized curtains for the windows in the UN Ambassador’s New York City apartment during budget cuts and a hiring freeze. According to a New York Times report, Nikki Haley, 46, is the first ambassador to live in the residence, as all previous ambassadors resided in the Waldorf Astoria. The U.S. government is currently leasing the First Avenue apartment, a decision made by the State Department in 2016. A spokesperson for Haley told the outlet that plans to buy the curtains were hatched by the Obama administration in 2016, and the ambassador didn’t have any part in it. The Times later updated their story with an editor’s note, stating that an earlier version of the article and headline “created an unfair impression about who was responsible for the purchase in question.


Newsline: New North Korean ambassador to U.N. has yet to receive U.S. visa

North Korea’s next Ambassador to the United Nations Kim Song has not yet received his visa to begin work at his new post in New York, an official told Kyodo News. He is to replace Pyongyang’s previous envoy, Ja Song Nam, who left at the end of July after having served as his country’s top representative at the U.N. headquarters since February 2014. Kim apparently applied for his visa in late May through the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, but has received no indication of when the process will be completed and is unable to travel to the country in the meantime. During at least part of the previous North Korean ambassador’s term, Kim had been posted in New York as a counselor with the country’s mission. Much was made of the first-ever summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un when the two met in June in Singapore, with Kim promising to work toward the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Since that time, however, bilateral negotiations over the issue have not proceeded smoothly as Pyongyang has yet to take concrete steps toward the goal, raising doubts about Kim’s actual willingness to relinquish his country’s nuclear weapons.