Diplomatic Briefing

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Archive for Belgium

Newsline: Belgium arrests suspect over US embassy attack plot

Belgian authorities arrested a man who is suspected of planning an attack on the United States Embassy in Brussels, prosecutors announced on June 24. The Belgian man, who has only been identified by his initials “M.G.”, was taken into custody following a string of threats. He has been charged with an attempted terror attack and with “preparing a terrorist offense.” The man denies any involvement in the alleged plot. According to Belgian state broadcaster RTBF, the man had been under police surveillance and was recently seen acting suspiciously near the embassy. Further details about the case were not immediately released.

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Newsline: Muslim family dragged out of Belgian embassy in Beijing by Chinese police

A Muslim family was dragged out of the Belgian embassy in Beijing by Chinese police after Belgian officials allowed them to enter the building, it has emerged. A Belgian diplomat was expected to travel to China’s restive Xinjiang region on June 18 to try and confirm the whereabouts of the woman and her four children, who are members of the Uighur minority. (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/18/muslim-family-dragged-belgian-embassy-beijing-chinese-police/) The woman’s husband, Adbulhamid Tursan, is a political refugee in Belgium. His wife, Horiyat Abula, and her four children travelled to Beijing at the end of May to complete missing paperwork for their family reunification visas. Mr Tursan said he had not heard from his family since May 31, a few days after they were extracted from the embassy after refusing to leave when they were told it would take at least three months for their visas to be approved. The embassy offered to escort the family back to their hotel, but they “refused to leave the embassy in a kind of sit-in”, a Belgian ministry spokesman said. In the end, Chinese police “escorted them away,”the spokesman said. Didier Reynders, Belgium’s foreign minister, said an embassy is not intended to “lodge people” applying for visas but added, “My only concern here is that we can reunite the family.”

Newsline: Foreign ministry calls on Belgians in Sri Lanka to make themselves known

The Belgian ministry for foreign affairs has sent out a message to the Belgian citizens currently in Sri Lanka to get in touch to determine whether any was involved in the wave of explosions which took place on Sunday, cause more than 150 deaths and many more injuries. Posting on Twitter, the ministry wrote (in English): “Several blasts have been reported in Sri Lanka. If you are a Belgian citizen residing or travelling in Sri Lanka please inform the Embassy of Belgium in New Delhi that you are safe on 0091 98 10117931 or newdelhi@diplobel.fed.be.” (http://brusselstimes.com/world/15106/foreign-ministry-calls-on-belgians-in-sri-lanka-to-make-themselves-known) The six attacks targetted three hotels and three churches. The situation at the time of writing is still unclear, but local sources put the number of deaths at 156, including at least 35 foreigners, with at least 400 people injured. Those numbers could of course change as time goes by and more information becomes clear. Three hotels were hit in the capital, Colombo, including the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, situated close to the prime minister’s residence. The other explosions took place at the Shangri La and the Kingsbury. Foreign affairs minister Didier Reynders posted two messages on his own Twitter account. “The foreign ministry is contacting Belgians living or travelling in Sri Lanka to see if they are safe or require assistance. We are also in touch the local authorities to obtain information on any foreign casualties.” In another message he said he was “very saddened and shocked”.

Newsline: Turkish foreign ministry summons Belgium ambassador in Ankara

Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned Belgium’s ambassador in Ankara on Monday over a Belgian judicial decision it said had blocked prosecution of people with alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a foreign ministry official said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-belgium/turkish-foreign-ministry-summons-belgium-ambassador-in-ankara-idUSKBN1QS1JL) The ministry last week described the decision by the Belgian Chamber of Indictment unacceptable and said Belgium was expected “to act in line with (its) counter-terrorism responsibilities”.

Newsline: Belgian Consulate in Barcelona vandalised

Slogans against Catalan independence have been spray-painted onto the Belgium Consulate in Barcelona, Spain, to denounce the presence in Belgium of the region’s former president, Carles Puigdemont. The Belgian Foreign Ministry confirmed the incident without giving further details. The consulate remained open and the graffiti was being erased. The front of the building and the ground in front of it were sprayed with slogans in red and black paint, such as: “Puigdemont in prison”, “Belgium, refuge of delinquents” and “Belgium, complicit with separatism”. Many pro-independence organisations have complained that their headquarters have been similarly vandalized by the extreme right, the Spanish daily Vanguardia reported. The daily wrote, however, that it was the first time the Belgian consulate in the Catalan capital was targeted. The Spanish justice authorities want to try Puigdemont for organizing a banned referendum on Catalonia’s independence in October 2017. The secessionist leader fled to Belgium and currently lives in Waterloo.

http://www.brusselstimes.com/belgium/12234/belgian-consulate-in-barcelona-vandalised-because-of-puigdemont-s-presence-in-belgium

Newsline: Belgium, Luxembourg summons Israeli ambassador over Gaza massacre

Luxembourg’s Foreign Ministry summoned Israeli Ambassador to his country Simona Frankel for reprimand and protest over the massacre committed by the Israeli occupation forces on Monday on the Gaza Strip border. It is noteworthy that Frankel, who is also envoy to Belgium, was summoned for a similar conversation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium. “Belgium’s Foreign Minister Didier Reynders called in Frankel after she claimed that all Palestinians killed in border clashes earlier in the week were “terrorists”, The Time of Israel reported. Summoning of Frankel comes one day after Ireland had summoned the Israeli ambassador the country.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180517-luxembourg-summons-israeli-ambassador-over-gaza-massacre/

Newsline: Police suspect arson after fire at Stockholm embassy building injures 14

Police in Stockholm have arrested a man on suspicion of arson after a fire at an embassy building injured 14 people. The alarm was raised about the fire at the Narvavägen building housing the embassies of Portugal, Tunisia, Argentina and Belgium as well as apartments and a restaurant at around lunchtime on Wednesday afternoon. “The operation is still ongoing. Around 14 people have been affected by the fire, with no serious injuries but smoke and minor injuries,” Stockholm police press spokesperson Kjell Lindgren told The Local. “The latest information from the fire fighters is that there’s no one left in the building, but they’re still working to extinguish the fire in the apartment section.” Lindgren said police were looking to speak to a person who they “think could have something to do with” the incident, with a description released to the public in an effort to locate him. Asked if it’s thought the fire was started deliberately, Lindgren affirmed “we think it was lit by someone, which is why we’ve started an investigation into arson”. An arrest was made in central Stockholm just after 2pm on Wednesday, with a man arrested suspected of arson on reasonable grounds (the lower degree of suspicion according to Swedish law).

https://www.thelocal.se/20180404/police-suspect-arson-after-fire-at-stockholm-embassy-building-injures-14