Monday, July 18, 2011

Weekend World News Catchup: Expulsion, Appointments, Interviews, Defections, Arrests, New Embassies

Expulsion: Calls in Ireland for expulsion of papal ambassador over child abuse

"Revelations that the Vatican told Irish bishops they could conceal allegations of clerical child abuse have led to calls for the expulsion of the papal ambassador to Ireland, traditionally one of Catholicism's most-devout strongholds." {The National}.

Appointments India | Nirupama Rao to take charge as Indian envoy to US shortly
Outgoing foreign secretary Nirupama Rao would be the next Indian ambassador to the US, the Indian government announced on Saturday.  Rao will succeed Meera Shankar to become India's second woman envoy to the US. {Times of India}

Appointments India | Interim U.S. Envoy to India Inherits Challenges
The U.S. has appointed Peter Burleigh as ChargĂ© d’Affaires of its mission in India on an interim basis. Mr. Burleigh, who held the same post from April to July 2009, will serve until the White House nominates a permanent ambassador. He steps in at a time when the U.S. is trying to manage an increasingly complex relationship with India. {The Wall Street Journal}

South Korea | Female diplomats lead lonelier lives than males
Jeong, a 16-year veteran, left Seoul on a three-year assignment in 2008, but usually, and almost certainly for entry-level diplomats, overseas assignments are for five years - three years in an advanced country and two more years in a developing country. And that, in most cases, means separation for just as many years from their spouses or children.
Kim Sang-jin, head of personnel management at the Foreign Ministry, said about 95 percent of male diplomats are accompanied by their spouses when serving at an overseas post, while 95 percent of female diplomats go off without spouses.
To compensate for financial losses from spouses abandoning jobs, the Foreign Ministry provides a salary to spouses accompanying diplomats to overseas posts, but it is only equivalent to 25 percent of a diplomat’s salary. Even if money is sufficient, most men would not trade the money to leave after working in their fields for many years, some female diplomats said.  {Korea JoongAng Daily}

Interview: Foreign Policy with Our Man in Damascus, US Ambassador Robert Ford
U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford had a  wide-ranging telephone interview with Foreign Policy last week. "Ford sharply criticized the Syrian government's continuing repression against peaceful protestors and called on President Bashar al-Assad to "take the hard decisions" to begin meaningful reforms before it is too late. Not, Ford stressed, because of American concerns but because of the impatience of the Syrian opposition itself. "This is not about Americans, it is about the way the Syrian government mistreats its own people," Ford stressed repeatedly. "This is really about Syrians interacting with other Syrians. I’m a marginal thing on the sidelines. I’m not that important." {Foreign Policy}

Interview: Mercury News with John Roos, U.S. Ambassador to Japan
Q In more than two decades in Silicon Valley, you honed negotiating skills in the land of tech. Now you are playing the role of diplomat. What has it been like to pivot from influential Silicon Valley lawyer to diplomat?

A Many of the same skill sets are brought to bear. Diplomacy is fundamentally working with people, bringing people together to deal with difficult issues. Obviously, the issues are very different. {Mercury News}

Defections: A second Burmese diplomat defects
"A Burmese diplomat has requested asylum in the United States, apparently in response to a crackdown by his government after the defection of a more senior diplomat earlier this month. Soe Aung, the fourth-ranking official in the Burmese Embassy in Washington, wrote to the State Department on Wednesday requesting asylum, according to the pro-democracy group U.S. Campaign for Burma. Soe Aung confirmed his defection in a brief interview with the Burmese Service of the Voice of America." {WaPo}

Arrests: Turkey arrests 14 al-Qaida members planning US embassy attack
"Turkish police captured the 15 suspects in Ankara, the western city of Bursa and the nearby town of Yalova, and seized 700 kilograms (1,500 pounds) of chemicals used in bomb making, two assault rifles, ammunition and maps of Ankara. The suspects were planning to attack the US Embassy in Ankara and unidentified foreign targets, the the Anatolia. They were brought to police headquarters in Ankara on Tuesday night and were being questioned by anti-terror police." {Today's Zaman}

New US Embassy in Valletta, Malta:

Douglas Kmiec, former US ambassador to Malta and Professor of Law at Pepperdine University in California writes about the newly opened US Embassy in Valleta:  "What a new US embassy represents"
[...] Because of Malta’s geographic proximity to Libya, many have asked my view about American involvement in the Mediterranean region, and they seem to ask it with special curiosity upon learning that I helped superintend, along with Rick Mills, the completion of a $125.5 million new embassy compound. Knowing my general frugality (this former ambaxxatur cycles the 10 miles round-trip to and from his office at the university), they need to hear the basis for the beautiful, but pricey, new structure in Ta’Qali.
An embassy of sufficiently ample size and personnel is justified because it is reasonable to anticipate Malta’s own willingness – respecting her constitutional commitment to neutrality, of course (you see, I did learn something!) – to become an even more prominent “partner for peace”, by, for example, signing onto the multilateral reciprocal status of personnel memorandum. {Times of Malta}

New US Embassy in Benghazi, Libya?

U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) today released the following statement regarding the Administration’s decision to recognize the Transitional National Council (TNC) as the legitimate governing authority of Libya:
“We welcome the Administration’s decision to recognize the Transitional National Council (TNC) as the legitimate governing authority of Libya. This is an encouraging step, which demonstrates America’s commitment to support the Libyan people as they fight to liberate their country from the Qaddafi regime and establish democracy. Recognition should now open the door for more robust U.S. and international support for the TNC, including facilitating their access to the frozen assets of the Qaddafi regime for the benefit of the Libyan people and to support the NATO mission. We strongly urge the Administration to remove any remaining obstacles to the TNC’s ability to gain access to these frozen assets as soon as possible. We hope that our allies and partners that have not yet recognized the TNC will now do so. We also urge the Administration to increase our diplomatic presence in Benghazi, designate a U.S. Ambassador to the TNC, and give the TNC’s representatives in Washington and New York full diplomatic rights and privileges.”

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