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Archive for UN

Newsline: Top aides to U.S. ambassador to the United Nations resign

Two top aides to U.S. diplomat Nikki Haley, President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, have resigned due to family concerns. Haley announced the departures on her Twitter account. Gone are Haley’s chief of staff, Steven Groves, and Communications Director Jonathan Wachtel, she said. “Both Jonathan & Steve have recently encountered family concerns. They will always be a part of the team & dear friends,” Haley said in a tweet responding to news reports the two men were leaving. Haley’s role at the United Nations received international attention last week when she helped persuade reticent members of the Security Council — particularly China and Russia — to pass tough new economic sanctions against North Korea. Replacements for Groves and Wachtel have not yet been announced.



Newsline: Diplomat blasts attacks on Russian embassy in Damascus

Russia calls on its partners to condemn yet another attack on its embassy in Damascus, Russia’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vladimir Safronkov said on Tuesday at a meeting of the UN Security Council. “Russia’s embassy in Damascus came under shelling twice during the past night. We urge partners to condemn these attacks,” he said. Al-Alam television channel reported earlier on Tuesday that four shells had fallen near the Russian embassy in Damascus’ Mazraa neighborhood. According to the television channel, shelling had been conducted by armed groups. Russia has repeatedly demanded the United Nations Security Council pass a press statement condemning attacks on its embassy in Damascus. In some cases, these attempts were blocked by Western countries that insisted on wordings unacceptable for Russia.


Newsline: Trump picks former U.N. spokesman Grenell for ambassador to Germany

President Donald Trump has picked former U.N. spokesman Richard Grenell as U.S. ambassador to Germany, a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity said. Grenell served as U.S. spokesman at the United Nations from 2001 to 2008, during the administration of Republican President George W. Bush. Currently, Grenell is a contributor to Fox News. His nomination as envoy to NATO ally Germany must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Trump has scolded Germany for not reaching NATO’s target for defense spending and complained about its trade surplus with the United States.


Newsline: Ex-Diplomat Tells Jurors He Got $1 Million Bribe From Developer

A former United Nations diplomat testified that he got more than $1 million from a Chinese developer who was seeking backing for a UN conference center that he hoped to build in Macao. The developer, billionaire Ng Lap Seng, is on trial charged with conspiracy and bribery in the biggest UN corruption scandal since the oil-for-food program in the early 2000s. He’s accused of funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to former UN General Assembly President John Ashe and other officials. Francis Lorenzo, 50, one of the UN diplomats who took the bribes, told jurors in Manhattan Thursday that Ng hoped to build a permanent home for an annual UN conference on economic cooperation among developing countries. Lorenzo, the former Deputy Ambassador to the UN from the Dominican Republic, said the scheme ran for five years beginning in 2010. He referred to the developer as N.G. in his testimony. Ng’s plan was to build the center for free to boost the value of a related complex of apartments, offices, a casino and hotel he also planned to develop. Ng and others involved were arrested before the center was built, Lorenzo testified. Six people were originally charged, including Ashe, who died in a weightlifting accident last year. In addition to serving as president of the general assembly, Ashe was the ambassador to the UN from Antigua and Barbuda. The remaining defendants have pleaded guilty, with some agreeing to cooperate with the prosecution. Lorenzo told jurors he’s cooperating with the hope he will get a reduced sentence.


Newsline: US Ambassador to United Nations Accused of Hatch Act Violation

For at least the second time this year, a Trump administration official has hit trouble via Twitter—and in this case it’s not the president himself. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is the subject of a complaint filed with the Office of Special Counsel by the nonprofit Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington claiming a violation of the Hatch Act. Haley, whose Twitter account has 369,000 followers and is labeled with her job title, last week retweeted a President Trump comment on the June 20 House election to fill the seat of Trump Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. “Ralph Norman, who is running for Congress in SC’s 5th District, will be a fantastic help to me in cutting taxes,” Trump wrote to his 33 million followers on June 19. He added a second tweet in the string to say a Norman victory would also help with “getting greater border security and healthcare.” Haley retweeted Trump’s part 1, as at least two journalists noted, on an account that frequently shares official U.N. photos and documents. “By posting this tweet on an account that referred to her official position, Ambassador Haley likely engaged in political activity prohibited by law,” CREW wrote in a June 27 letter to Adam Miles, acting special counsel at OSC. The Hatch Act prohibits executive branch employees from using “official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” The CREW letter noted that Haley’s account contains no disclaimer distinguishing a personal account from an official one. Haley has apparently removed the tweet in question from her account. The State Department did not respond to requests for comment.


Newsline: North Korea envoy calls US efforts to rid nukes a ‘wild dream’

North Korea’s deputy UN ambassador has said US efforts to get rid of his country’s nuclear weapons through military threats and sanctions are “a wild dream.” Kim In Ryong told The Associated Press that North Korea’s nuclear weapons are never part of “political bargains and economic deals.” “In a nutshell, DPRK have already declared not to attend any type of talks which would discuss its nuclear abandonment, nuclear disbandment,” he said, using the acronym for the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Kim reiterated North Korea’s longstanding contention that its nuclear program “is the product of the United States hostile policy towards DPRK.” Kim “categorically rejected” yesterday’s UN Security Council meeting on the North Korean nuclear issue which his country declined to attend as “another abuse” of the council’s authority, acting on instructions of the United States which is a veto-wielding member. The United States holds the council presidency this month and organized the ministerial session that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson chaired.


Newsline: Twitter Suspends Fake Account of Russian Deputy Ambassador to UN

The fake twitter account of the Russian Deputy Ambassador to the UN Vladimir Safronkov was suspended at the request of the Russian Mission, according to the representative. “We pointed out the account is fake and took measures. The account was closed,” the representative said. @SafronkovRu was set up on Twitter alleging to belong to the Deputy Ambassador, but was denounced by the Russian mission as a fake. Twitter said in a report that it suspended more than 630,000 user accounts from August 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016. The tech giant also has a longstanding policy of prohibiting the promotion of terrorism and violent extremism.