Tag Archives: diplomatic

Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman heads to Pakistan on Asian diplomatic offensive

Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman heads to Pakistan on Asian diplomatic offensiveSaudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman flew to Pakistan at the start of a three nation diplomatic tour designed to repair the kingdom's reputation and bolster ties with key regional allies. The crown prince's visit could be overshadowed by dangerously spiraling tensions between Pakistan and India. The trip comes days after a suicide bomber killed 44 Indian paramilitary police in the disputed Kashmir region.  New Delhi has accused Pakistan of having a hand in Thursday's attack and vowed to punish Islamabad, which denies involvement. Iran, a regional rival of Saudi Arabia, accused Pakistan of harbouring and training militants behind a suicide bombing in Baluchistan that killed 27 troops on Wednesday.  Crown prince Mohammed is expected to travel to Dehli to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday. He will spend Thursday and Friday in China.  The three nation tour has been characterized as part of a Saudi "pivot to the east" and is in part meant to repair the crown prince's reputation following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the ensuing state-led cover-up. Despite his vow to shift Saudi Arabia to renewable energy, the trip is also in part a roadshow to sell Saudi oil. China is the world’s largest buyer of Saudi crude, and India is close behind. As the guardians of the most holy site in Islam, the Saudi royal family carry great clout in Pakistan. The visit also deepens a long standing alliance that has seen Saudi Arabia propping up Pakistan's fragile economy.  Pakistani officials have said that Saudi Arabia will announce eight investment agreements during the visit, including a $ 10 billion refinery and petrochemicals complex in the coastal city of Gwadar, where China is building a port. Saudi Arabia has in recent months helped keep Pakistan's economy afloat by propping up its rapidly dwindling foreign exchange reserves with a $ 6 billion loan, giving Islamabad breathing room as it negotiates a bailout with the International Monetary Fund.



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Trump administration orders non-emegency US diplomatic staff to leave Venezuela

Trump administration orders non-emegency US diplomatic staff to leave VenezuelaAmerican diplomats in Venezuela are in the middle of an escalating dispute between the Trump administration and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.



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U.S. rejects Maduro decision to sever diplomatic ties

U.S. rejects Maduro decision to sever diplomatic tiesThe US said it did not think he had the authority to cut ties and it would conduct relations with a government led by opposition leader Juan Guaido.



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Third Canadian arrested in China as Huawei diplomatic rows continue

Third Canadian arrested in China as Huawei diplomatic rows continueA third Canadian citizen has been detained in China following the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.  A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said on Tuesday that they are “aware of a Canadian citizen” who has been taken into custody in China. An anonymous official later briefed that the department had "reason to believe that this case is linked to other recent cases of Canadians detained in China" Nevertheless there was speculation that the move was retaliation for the arrest of Ms Meng, who is facing extradition to the US. David Mulroney, a former ambassador to China, said it would be highly unusual if the third arrest was a coincidence.  "One detention is bad enough. Two is terrible. Three underlines how ruthless China can be," he told AFP. Ms Meng's arrest has been seen as politically motivated as it comes amid hightened security tensions between the US and China, and accusations that Huawei is a vehicle for state spying. Canada declined to name the latest person arrested or provide further details, citing a national privacy act. However, the National Post, which first reported the story on Wednesday, cited third-party sources who apparently spoke to the family of the person arrested and confirmed they are neither a diplomat nor an entrepreneur working in China. Hua Chunying, spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, denied any knowledge of the latest arrest in a daily press briefing in Beijing this morning. Two other Canadians — former diplomat and current advocacy group advisor Michael Kovrig, and businessman Michael Spavor — were arrested in China last week on charges of endangering the country’s national security.  Beijing has not said if the two arrests were made in retaliation for Meng’s detention, and the Canadian government has stressed that there is no explicit link between the cases. However, Western diplomats in Beijing and commentators have called the move “tit-for-tat” reprisals.  Adrian Zenz, an independent China researcher and lecturer at Columbia International University, told The Telegraph: “This [the third arrest] indicates that China is willing to escalate this delicate situation even further, and shows how important Huawei as a company is for the Chinese state. "Beijing is very concerned that Huawei's reputation in the West will deteriorate further. Also, China has been increasingly bold in its stance towards Western governments, notably in its strong rebuttal of a request of 15 diplomats to visit the re-education camps in Xinjiang. "Beijing's willingness to arbitrarily detain Canadian citizens in order to put pressure on Ottawa is in line with this new approach to the West, which is increasingly characterised by a use of sharp power instead of soft power.” The relationship between Ottawa and Beijing has become evermore important amid the ongoing trade war between China and the US, but news of a third arrest will heighten tensions further. After Ms Meng was detained China’s government and state-run media said Canada would face serious consequences, putting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s hopes for free trade talks in jeopardy.  Mr Trudeau’s government has been under pressure to bar Huawei, one of the world’s leading mobile technology giants, from developing a 5G network in Canada due to cyber security and espionage concerns. The UK government and universities are also facing questions over contracts involving Huawei hardware. Ms Meng, who is accused by US prosecutors of putting multinational banks at risk by misleading them into trading with Iran in violation of US sanctions, was released on December 12 on C$ 10m (£6m) bail, but will return to court next year to face further legal proceedings. The 46-year-old, daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, denies the charges.



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Meng Wanzhou: US ambassador told to 'immediately correct' arrest of Huawei CFO as diplomatic row deepens

Meng Wanzhou: US ambassador told to 'immediately correct' arrest of Huawei CFO as diplomatic row deepensChina has summoned the US ambassador to Beijing to demand Washington cancel an arrest warrant for a senior executive of telecoms giant Huawei. The arrest of chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on 1 December has threatened to reignite a trade war between the two powers. Officials reportedly told Ambassador Terry Branstad the detention was “extremely egregious” and said the US must “immediately correct its wrong actions”.



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In phone calls, Turkey's Erdogan urges Putin, Poroshenko to diplomatic solution: Turkish source

In phone calls, Turkey's Erdogan urges Putin, Poroshenko to diplomatic solution: Turkish sourceTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan urged his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts in separate phone calls to resolve tensions between the two countries through dialogue and diplomacy, a source in Erdogan’s office said on Wednesday. Ukraine and Russia have been at loggerheads after Russia captured three Ukrainian vessels and their crews over the weekend in what Kiev fears could be a precursor to a full-scale Russian invasion. Russia accuses Ukraine of plotting with its Western allies to provoke a conflict.



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Justice For Jamal Khashoggi Now Depends On Trump's Moral Judgment And Diplomatic Skills

Justice For Jamal Khashoggi Now Depends On Trump's Moral Judgment And Diplomatic SkillsWASHINGTON ― As reports about missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi grow



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Turkey looks for diplomatic solution to avoid 'massacre' in Syria's Idlib 

Turkey looks for diplomatic solution to avoid 'massacre' in Syria's Idlib Turkey and the US said they were racing find a diplomatic solution to avoid “a serious massacre” in Syria’s Idlib province ahead of a critical summit on Friday which is likely to decide the fate of the rebel stronghold.  The world had been bracing for weeks for Assad regime forces to attack Idlib, where around 2.5 million civilians are living in opposition-held territory with no clear route of escape if fighting escalates.  Regime troops shelled rebel positions on Wednesday, a day after Russian warplanes ended weeks of calm with a barrage of airstrikes. At least 13 civilians were killed in the Russian bombing, according to monitors.  The future of Idlib is likely to be determined at a summit on Friday, when the leaders of Russia, Iran and Turkey will gather in Tehran to discuss the future of Syria.  Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, said Wednesday that he hoped to use the meeting to reach a deal and prevent an all-out attack on the border province.  "God willing we will succeed in averting the extreme actions of the regime there by getting a positive result from the Tehran summit," Mr Erdogan said. Turkey is worried that an attack on Idlib will trigger a mass exodus of refugees fleeing towards the Turkish border. Turkey already shelters 3.5 million Syrians and Mr Erdogan is under domestic pressure not to take in anymore.   Erdogan is concerned about a new influx of refugees heading to Syria Credit: AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis "3.5 million people live there. God forbid, it is again Turkey where those people will flee in case of a disaster," Mr Erdogan said. Activists in Idlib said Turkey had increased its forces at a number of small outposts in the province. Civilians have gathered near the outposts in the hope that Russia will avoid bombing them.  Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, also said he was pushing for a diplomatic solution. “We are hoping that this can be resolved diplomatically,” he said.  Mr Pompeo said he shared Russia’s worries about al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups based in Idlib but said that a full-scale attack was not the way to deal with the situation.  “We share their concern about terrorism emanating from northern, northwest Syria,” he said. “It is not the way to do that to put the lives of all these innocent civilians at risk and create a humanitarian crisis.”  Russia has so far made no commitment not to launch an all-out attack but has also pointed to the Friday summit as critical for deciding the future of Idlib.  Syrian regime and Russian jets have been striking Idlib but an all-out assault has not yet begun Credit: JALAA MAREY/AFP/Getty Images “I think the situation from a military point of view will become clearer after, among other things, the leaders of the three guarantor states hold talks on Friday,” said Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister.  A Syrian regime source said Damascus was open “until the very last moment” to a compromise that would avoid the need for an attack.  Conquering Idlib would be a major victory for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad on his quest to take back all of Syria’s territory and crush the rebellion which broke out against him in 2011. The US has repeatedly warned the Syrian regime not to use chemical weapons during its attack on Idlib, saying that any use of chemical weapons will lead to Western strikes.  Western government believe Assad could be tempted to use nerve agent to try to break the morale of rebel and jihadist fighters in Idlib as well as the civilian population there.  Russia has countered by claiming that Syrian rebel groups might “stage” a chemical weapons attack and blame it on the regime, in order to induce Western strikes against Assad’s forces.   James Mattis, the US defence secretary, said the US has “zero intelligence” that indicated any of the rebel factions have the ability to carry out a chemical attack.



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How a US coffee shop sparked a diplomatic standoff between China and Taiwan

How a US coffee shop sparked a diplomatic standoff between China and TaiwanA bakery in California has found itself at the centre of an international storm after it welcomed the president of Taiwan with a cup of coffee and a goody bag. The result was a major diplomatic incident as Chinese customers launched a boycott of the 85C Bakery Cafe, which rapidly disappeared from online ordering platforms on the Chinese mainland.  The episode highlight's Beijing's sensitivity over an island that considers itself a sovereign state, but has never declared formal independence.  The Taiwanese-owned chain apologised and distanced itself from the views of Tsai Ing-wen, the pro-independence leader of the island, after she dropped in on Wednesday en route to visiting allies in South America.  Excited staff gave her a gift bag and took selfies, as images were uploaded to Facebook by part of her delegation. A woman looks at her mobile phone at a 85C Bakery Cafe in Hangzhou in China's eastern Zhejiang province Credit: AFP They have since been removed but it was too late to prevent the diplomatic fallout. Beijing – which has been working to isolate countries that recognise Taiwan – warned it would oppose any businesses that support Taiwanese independence. A company official in Taipei, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that it had been removed from several online platforms, telling the AFP news agency: "We have noticed the situation and we hope it won't be permanent." 85C began in Taiwan but has since expanded to earn more than 60 percent of its revenue in China. Losing its presence on food delivery apps would be devastating. At a glance | The One China policy China views the island as part of its own territory, and has escalated a campaign to isolate Taiwan internationally since Ms Tsai came to power in 2016. A growing number of international companies including airlines and hotels have been bending to pressure from Beijing to refer to Taiwan as part of China. The election of Donald Trump has added to Chinese unease as he showed little regard for the fine lines and grey areas of the "one China policy". Taiwan's state-aligned Central News Agency on Thursday quoted a top official with China's Taiwan Affairs Office, Long Mingbiao, as saying in Beijing that any company that expects to invest and "make money" in China must adhere to its policies. 85C's problems began after Tsai stopped off at a Los Angeles branch of the cafe this week during an American visit in which she became the first Taiwanese leader in 15 years to give a public speech on American soil, something Beijing staunchly opposes. Internet users in China lashed out with boycott threats and calls for the coffee chain to quit the Chinese market.



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Saudi critics jab Canada on Twitter and TV as diplomatic feud deepens

Saudi critics jab Canada on Twitter and TV as diplomatic feud deepensJustin Trudeau said his government was engaging with Saudi Arabia to resolve the spat but stood firm on Canada’s stance. Soon after Saudi Arabia announced that Canada’s ambassador to the kingdom was now persona non grata, a surge of Saudi Twitter accounts began expressing concerns about Canada’s treatment of indigenous peoples.



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