Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: U.S. punishes American firm after its Canadian subsidiary leases cars to Cuban embassy in Ottawa

U.S. President Donald Trump rolled back some of the key measures of his predecessor’s rapprochement with Cuba, making it harder for American tourists to travel to the island, and harder for American corporations to do business there. That move was immediately met with a rebuke from Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. But as a recent case in Ottawa illustrates, American sanctions against Cuba don’t only affect Americans or American businesses. The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control announced it had reached a settlement with the American Honda Finance Corporation — the institution that finances the sale and leases of Hondas and Acuras in North America. The civil liability settlement requires the company to hand over $87,255 US for violating the sanctions. The American Honda Finance Corporation is based in California, and the fine will likely be paid in the U.S., but the transaction that brought it on occurred in Canada. The cause of the dispute is a series of 13 lease agreements between Honda Canada Finance, Inc. — a majority-owned subsidiary of the American Honda Finance Corporation — and the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa. According to a notice published by the U.S. Treasury, the 13 leases were signed between Feb. 2011 and March 2014. Under U.S. law, the fact that a U.S. company was a majority shareholder of Honda Canada Finance makes the transaction subject to U.S. sanctions — even though both the lessor and the lessee were in Canada. In a statement, the Cuban government argued that the fine “not only hampers the work of Cuban diplomats in a third country, but also harms Canadian citizens and companies that maintain relations with Cuban entities.” Brittany Venhola-Fletcher of Global Affairs Canada told CBC News the sanction constitutes interference with a Canadian business transaction. “Canada has consistently opposed the extraterritorial application of United States sanctions, which interfere with the right of Canadian companies to conduct their business in a manner consistent with international trade practice and the laws of Canada.” The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa referred CBC to the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, which did not return calls about the sanction. It’s not clear whether the Cuban Embassy in Ottawa still leases vehicles from Honda.

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/u-punishes-american-firm-canadian-090000381.html

Newsline: Chinese issues safety warning after citizen shot dead in Laos

Chinese Embassy in Laos on Sunday issued a safety warning after a Chinese citizen was shot dead in Lao’s central Xaysomboun province. According to the embassy, a Chinese citizen was shot dead by unidentified persons on Friday in Xaysomboun province, some 130 km northeast of Lao capital Vientiane. The Lao side is currently investigating the incident, the embassy said. In its safety warning, the embassy reminds Chinese citizens and institutions in Laos to further improve safety awareness and strengthen security precautions. In case of emergency, Chinese citizens should immediately report to Lao police, and contact the Chinese embassy and consulate in Laos, it said. Previously on March 1, 2016, a Chinese company in the northern Luang Prabang province was attacked by an unidentified armed group, leaving one Chinese citizen dead and three others injured. On Jan. 24, 2016, an attack by an unidentified group in Xaysomboun province killed two Chinese people and injured one. The safety warning by Chinese Embassy in Laos is effective for six months until Dec. 18, 2017.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-06/18/c_136375402.htm

Newsline: Ex-chief accountant of Russian embassy in Vietnam to go on trial on embezzlement charges

Former chief accountant of Russian embassy in Vietnam Vladislav Balabkin charged with embezzling 6 million rubles (about $104,700) will go on trial, the official website of the Prosecutor General’s Office said. Investigators allege that In February 2013, Balabkin abused trust of Russian ambassador and received $200,000 from joint Vietnamese-Russian bank in Hanoi for his own purposes. The embassy received damage estimated at 6 million rubles as a result. Balabkin admitted guilt in full. His case will be reviewed by the Presnensky District Court of Moscow.

http://rapsinews.com/judicial_news/20170615/278953323.html

Newsline: Philippine Embassy in Japan to aid seamen aboard ship that collided with US Navy destroyer

The Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, Japan is ready to help the Filipino crew onboard the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel that collided with a US Navy destroyer south of Tokyo Bay, a Palace official said on Saturday. The Philippine Embassy in Tokyo was closely monitoring the situation in coordination with Japanese and US authorities after US Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with the Philippine-flagged container ship ACX Crystal off the coast of Japan. The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said it is monitoring updates in the collision incident. Seven US crew members are missing and at least three hurt in the collision incident, the US Navy said.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/614874/phl-embassy-in-japan-to-extend-assistance-to-pinoy-seamen-onboard-ship-collided-with-us-navy-destroyer-palace/story/

Newsline: Turkish president condemns US decision to charge bodyguards after embassy brawl

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan furiously condemned the United States for charging two of Erdogan’s bodyguards for the bloody May brawl outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C. In a statement, Turkey’s ministry of foreign affairs said the arrests of Erdogan’s bodyguards are “wrong, biased and lacks legal basis” following the melee that sent nine protesters to the hospital. “That the brawl in front of the Turkish Ambassador’s Residence was caused by the failure of local security authorities to take necessary measures; that this incident would not have occurred if the US authorities had taken the usual measures they take in similar high level visits and therefore that Turkish citizens cannot be held responsible for the incident that took place,” the ministry’s statement reads, according to reports. In televised remarks Thursday night, Erdogan furiously attacked his NATO ally for the arrests. He explained that his bodyguards’ presence at the brawl was merely to protect him, despite video that shows him watching from a nearby car while his guards are fighting. “Why would I take my guards to the United States if not to protect myself?” Erdogan asked. D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham said that the violence at the embassy was unprecedented, and that the Turkish Embassy’s “self-defense” explanation wouldn’t fly.

http://thehill.com/homenews/news/338093-erdogan-condemns-us-decision-to-charge-bodyguards-over-embassy-protester

Newsline: Russia’s embassy urges North Korea to release crew of detained yacht

Russia’s Embassy in North Korea has called on the authorities to release the crew of a detained Russian yacht Katalexa, a spokesman for the diplomatic mission in Pyongyang, Denis Samsonov, told TASS on Friday. The embassy has “expressed bewilderment” over a statement of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s consular department that the yacht was detained while sailing in the Sea of Japan for violating the country’s border. According to Samsonov, the Russian yacht was detained in the area located no closer than 50 miles away from the shore. Now Katalexa is in the port of Rajin, in the country’s northeast. Russia’s Consul-General in Chongjin Yury Bochkarev is heading there to meet with the crew members and verify details of the incident. The head of Russia’s company in Rajin, RasonKonTrans, Ivan Tonkih is finding out if the Russians have drinking water and food. The Katalexa yacht was being towed from Taiwan to the Russky Island off Vladivostok, in Russia’s Far East, the regional Yachting Sport Federation told TASS. According to this organization, three crew members were onboard the yacht. Last year, another Russian yacht en route from South Korea’s Busan to Vladivostok was apprehended approximately 80 miles from the North Korean coast. The vessel was released when Russian diplomats intervened. North Korean authorities said it was held “by mistake” after a crew of a North Korean fishing vessel noticed a South Korean logo on its hull.

http://tass.com/politics/951721

Newsline: China to Upgrade Trade Development Office in Panama to Embassy

The China-Panama Trade Development Office, currently China’s highest representative office in the country, will be upgraded to a full Chinese embassy. Wang Weihua, permanent representative of the office, disclosed that the embassy will be built in Panama City. Wang’s remarks came soon after China and Panama signed a joint communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations on June 13. More staff will be recruited and a new location will be scouted to build a more permanent embassy, Wang said. The Office of China-Panama Trade Development is located in an office building.

https://sputniknews.com/politics/201706151054644172-china-upgrades-panama-office-embassy/