Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: New Zealand diplomat under fire for US politics tweets

A high-ranking Kiwi diplomat is in hot water after telling the US Democratic Party to “get your shit together or we will all die”. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has confirmed it is taking “appropriate action” against Caroline Beresford, New Zealand’s deputy head of mission to the United States, following her now-deleted posts on Twitter. In response to a tweet by US politics website The Hill, outlining the potential of a Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren presidential ticket to take on Trump at the 2020 election, Beresford took issue with a suggestion that the pair could “win big”. “No it couldn’t. Please get your shit together or we will all die,” she said, in what appears to be a reference to concerns about the administration of current US President and Republican Donald Trump. In other tweets, also deleted later, Beresford said Democrats had “learned nothing”, and added: “If this is what they have against Trump we should be planning for the eight years.”



Newsline: Russian embassy lashes out at UK expulsion of diplomats

Britain’s expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats following the poisoning of a former double agent is a hostile and unjustified action, Russia’s embassy in London said on Wednesday. Britain accuses Russia of being responsible for the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, southern England, but Russia denies involvement and says Britain is to blame for worsening relations between the two countries. “We consider this hostile action as totally unacceptable, unjustified and short-sighted,” the Russian embassy said in a statement in reaction to the expulsion.


Newsline: Britain Expels 23 Russian Diplomats Over Ex-Spy’s Poisoning

British Prime Minister Theresa May expelled 23 Russian diplomats on Wednesday, blaming Moscow for the poisoning of a former Russian spy and sharply escalating the dispute between the two countries. Her statement to Parliament came after Moscow rejected a British deadline for Russia to explain itself over this month’s nerve-agent attack on the former spy, Sergei V. Skripal, and his daughter. The two countries have engaged in a worsening clash in recent days, with Britain widening an investigation into the incident and courting friends and allies to increase pressure on Russia, while Moscow has threatened to retaliate over any punitive action. “This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom,” Mrs. May said in an address to the House of Commons. “It must therefore be met with a full and robust response.” She said she had agreed with Britain’s National Security Council to suspend all high-level contacts between her country and Russia, and to expel 23 Russian diplomats, who were given one week to leave. She described it as the biggest expulsion in more than 30 years. The prime minister also said the government had agreed on new powers to crack down on the activities of foreign intelligence agents in Britain, that there was no place for “serious criminals and corrupt elites” in the country, and that an invitation for Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov of Russia to visit had been withdrawn.


Newsline: Russian embassy demands explanation from UK Foreign Office about cyber attack threats

Russia’s embassy in London said it has requested official explanations from the UK Foreign Office concerning cyber attack threats. “Embassy has officially requested explanations from Foreign Office on the cyber attack threats heard at Parliament and in the media. Russia takes a serious view on cyber security breaches,” the embassy wrote on its Twitter account. The Russian embassy in London said that Moscow was seriously alarmed over British MPs’ statements on possible cyber attacks on Russia. “Statements by a number of MPs, “Whitehall sources” and “experts” regarding a possible “deployment” of “offensive cyber-capabilities” cause serious concern. Not only is Russia groundlessly and provocatively accused of the Salisbury incident, but, apparently, plans are being developed in the UK to strike Russia with cyber weapons,” the embassy’s press secretary said.



Newsline: Pro-Kurds clash with police outside US embassy in Paris

Pro-Kurdish demonstrators protesting against Turkey’s military offensive in northern Syria have clashed with police outside the U.S. embassy in Paris. French police tried to keep the protesters back from the embassy building on Tuesday night and used tear gas to disperse the protest. Some protesters threw projectiles at police and several of them were injured in the scuffles that followed. The protesters were expressing anger at a perceived lack of action from the U.S. after Turkey announced that its troops and Turkish-backed Syrian opposition fighters had begun a siege of the Syrian Kurdish-held northern town of Afrin.



Newsline: Former employee seeks Ksh. 45M compensation from Saudi Arabia Embassy in Kenya

The Saudi Arabia Embassy in Kenya wants to pursue an out of court settlement of a case where they owe a former employee Ksh.45 million. The former employee, Abdi Mohammed Abdullahi, accused the embassy of illegal termination of employment. The Embassy, through an advocate, acknowledged before Justice Byram Ongayo that they owe Mr. Abdullahi, who was head of research and a translator, salary arrears amounting to Sh4.9 million. The court also heard that the Embassy will start by paying the complainant Sh2.9 million by March 16 as they negotiate further. During the agreement, lawyers for the two parties, agreed to meet the Saudi Arabia Ambassador before the next mention date of the case.



Newsline: Trump ousts US top diplomat, will replace Tillerson as secretary of state with CIA chief Pompeo

President Trump has ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and plans to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him as the nation’s top diplomat, orchestrating a major change to his national security team amid delicate negotiations with North Korea, White House officials said Tuesday.