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Newsline: Moscow recalls controversial ambassador to Washington back

The U.S.-Russia Business Council will host a farewell party for #Russian Ambassador to Washington Sergey Kislyak on July 11 at the St. Regis Hotel. The event confirms a BuzzFeed News report that Moscow has recalled the controversial envoy whose alleged #secret meetings with Trump campaign officials has led to an obstruction of justice investigation against #President Donald Trump. The recall, although expected because the ambassador has been in his U.S. post since 2008, comes at a time that the Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election has been linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kislyak’s secret meetings with Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Trump, and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.


Newsline: Russian ambassador to help search for missing Colorado officer

The efforts to grow a search for a Colorado officer and National Guardsman who is missing in Russia amid a hiking trip added an international partner. The search for Littleton Police Department Officer and Colorado National Guardsman Steven Beare now includes U.S. and Russian assets after a meeting between Colorado Representative Mike Coffman and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Coffman stepped in and offered his help after a Denver7 report highlighted Olivia Beare’s quest to find her husband despite little support from Russian authorities. Beare, an experienced officer who has been deployed overseas multiple times, is an avid hiker who was on a quest to summit the world’s seven tallest peaks. He was on his second mountain, Mount Elbrus in Russia, when he went missing on June 16. The hike was his first solo climb and was expected to go smoothly, however a storm moved in over the mountain and dumped several feet of snow. Beare is believed to be lost in that storm, and it’s not known if he is alive or dead. Beare’s family and friends have organized assets through the U.S. to move in and begin searching, with a searcher arriving to the mountain not long ago. Now Russian authorities have pledged their support, too, according to Rep. Coffman. “I want to thank Ambassador Kislyak for meeting with me this afternoon,” Coffman said in a release. “I received assurances that his government will do everything possible in the search for Steven Beare. Discussed today was the deployment of specialized mountain search and rescue teams and Russian military helicopters to aid in the search.”


Newsline: South Korean protesters surround US embassy in Seoul

Thousands of South Korean protesters against the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in their homeland took to the streets in central Seoul to demand the reversal of the installation decision. About 3,000 demonstrators gathered outside the Seoul metropolitan government building as of 4 p.m. local time (0700 GMT), according to an organizer composed of advocacy groups and residents living in the THAAD site. The attendees clamored for the cancellation of the decision to install the U.S. missile interception system that is not needed anywhere in the Korean Peninsula. It was called a “human chain” event as a line of people stood around the embassy of the United States. A blue wave was slopping around the streets as people held blue placards and pamphlets that read “Repeal THAAD” and “Hate THAAD” as well as the most famous “THAAD out, Peace in.” Seoul and Washington agreed in July last year to place one THAAD battery in Seongju county, North Gyeongsang province. The site was changed in September into a golf course at Soseong-ri village to the northernmost of the county. Two THAAD mobile launchers were deployed to the golf course, just two weeks before the presidential by-election on May 9. Four more launchers were transported to a U.S. military base near Seongju, but it was not reported to South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The anti-THAAD protest rally was staged ahead of President Moon’s first summit meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington for two days from June 29.


Newsline: Trump nominates sports lovers as UK, Belgium ambassadors

President Donald Trump has nominated the chief executive of an asset management firm to be the U.S. ambassador to the U.K. and a former owner of a baseball team to be ambassador to Belgium. Richard Wood Johnson IV, a longtime supporter of the Republican Party, had been touted by Trump as his likely nomination for the position of U.S. ambassador to the U.K. He has run the New York-based asset management firm The Johnson Company for 30 years and is the owner of the New York Jets, an American football team. In 2006, he was asked to testify before the U.S. Senate over a tax-avoidance scheme he participated in that cost the U.S. Treasury an estimated $300 million. He subsequently repaid the figure. Trump’s pick for ambassador to Belgium, Jamie McCourt, is also a sports fan, having been the president and chief executive of the Los Angeles Dodgers, a baseball team. McCourt, “a prominent entrepreneur and attorney,” backed Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and, according to the White House press release announcing her nomination, “speaks French.”


Newsline: Former US diplomatic officer charged with sharing secrets with China

A former US diplomatic officer has been arrested and charged with sharing secrets with ‘a Chinese agent’. According to an affidavit, Kevin Mallory travelled to Shanghai in March and April 2017. The 60-year-old from Virginia was stoppd by customs agents in Chicago after he failed to declare $16,500 in cash found in two carry-on bags. Andrew Vale, assistant director of the FBI’s Washington office, said: “Kevin Mallory was previously entrusted with top-secret clearance and therefore had access to classified information, which he allegedly shared and planned to continue sharing with representatives of a foreign government.” The self-employed consultant who has worked for the US government and defence contractors, made his initial appearance in federal court on Thursday. Mallory faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of the espionage charges.


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.


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.