Archive for the ‘diplomat’ Category

Vietnam Envoy In Africa Arrested: Dealing in Banned Rhino

November 19, 2008

Vietnam says it will recall one of its diplomats from South Africa after she was filmed in an apparent illegal purchase of a rhinoceros horn.

A TV crew accompanying government investigators filmed an agent for a gang of poachers meeting the woman outside Vietnam’s embassy in Pretoria.


They filmed the agent handing the horn to the diplomat, who then took it inside the embassy building.

Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said it had recalled her to “clarify the affair”.

Vietnam’s ambassador to South Africa, Tran Duy Thi, told the BBC that action had to be taken.

Rhinoceros (file image)
Crushed rhino horn is prized in some traditional East Asian medicine

“She did it right at the front steps of the embassy,” he said. “You see, they filmed the Vietnamese flag as she was doing it – how shameful! There must be a sanction.”

More than 40 rhinos are said to have been killed in South Africa this year.

Conservationists say Vietnamese syndicates are heavily involved in the illegal trade of their horns.

Crushed rhinoceros horn is a prized ingredient in traditional East Asian medicine, where it is used to treat fever and high blood pressure.



Obama Should Hire Hillary for International Role; Limit Biden

November 15, 2008

In the world of diplomacy, “bluring out the truth” is hardly an asset….

So the news that President-Elect Barack Obama is considering Hillary Clinton as a possible Secretary of State is delightful — showing real intellect and courage. 

While still Senator Obama,  the now future president was criticized for his lack of foreign policy experience.  So he hired as his vice presidential running mate the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a man with the reputation of a foreign policy and international affairs “expert.”

Yet sometimes, reputation doesn’t always mirror reality or facts.

Joe Biden also has a reputation for saying the wrong thing.  And he takes a lot of wind and time to say the wrong thing.  And even when he speaks the truth it is sometimes a truth that needn’t be mentioned or discussed.  Before the election when he said that some evil doer in the international community would create a crisis just to test the new president, there is no doubt that he believed that to be true.  But what did this utterance gain anyone?  I call this Joe Biden “blurting out the truth.”

In the world of diplomacy, “bluring out the truth” is hardly an asset….

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney (L) greets Vice President-elect ... 
U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney (L) greets Vice President-elect Joe Biden at the Vice President’s residence in Washington November 13, 2008. Cheney, considered one of the most powerful vice presidents in U.S. history, welcomed Biden on Thursday for a tour of his new home to be.  It isn’t difficult to see why one might choose John Nance Garner’s “bucket of warm spit” over highly activists vice presidents….. REUTERS/Molly Riley

Hillary Clinton is well regarded in the world community and her husband is widely revered as a great president — especially in light of the last eight years many will tell you.  And now Bill Clinton is doing meritorious work on the international stage with his foundation.

Hillary would make a good Secretary of State and Barack Obama knows that.  I also have great hope that between Hillary and Barack there is enought knowledge and care for America that the two can agree to iolate Joe Biden from the international stage — especially when sensitive matters are involved.

And Hillary undoubtedly still wants Barack’s job after her rough and disappointing primary election effort….  She ran against Barack and could easlily do so again if left to her own (and Bill’s) devices.  Barack is, perhaps, taking a lesson from Abe Lincold who hired many of his foes believing “keep your friends close and your enemies closer….”

Commentator Charles Krauthammer referred to Joe Biden recently as “The Sage of Wilmington.”  Such pladitudes and more sincere sounding ones may be required in some numbers to soothe the ego of the future Vice President — but whatever it takes to keep him away from the leaders of the international community has to be done.

President-elect Barack Obama listens to Senator Hillary Clinton ... 
President-elect Barack Obama listens to Senator Hillary Clinton in Unity, New Hampshire, June 27, 2008.(Jim Young/Reuters)

Obama’s statement that there can only be one President of the United States at a time shows me that he also knows that there can only be one person in charge of U.S. foreign policy: the Secretary of State.

For that reason: Joe Biden will have to be carefully managed away from meddling in the international arena.  It may be more productive and safer to allow him to meddle in something else.

Joe Biden can fulful any number of very positive roles in the Barack Obama Administration: but on foreign affairs he is best sent only to overseas funerals and weddings.  And even then there is some risk he’ll “blurt out the truth” which will require apologies and regrets all around….

Patrick Cox, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin wrote:

“When it comes to commentary about the office of vice president of the United States, no statement is more repeated than John Nance Garner’s observation that ‘the vice presidency is not worth a bucket of warm spit.’”

Today our Vice Presidents seem to do a lot more than fill buckets with warm spit….  Maybe some of them should be handed the bucket that John “Cactus Jack” Garner spoke of….

John Nance Garner
John Nance Garner, Vice President of the United States,


I have many Joe Biden stories, some related to me and some created by my own witnessing to events.  I’ll just tell two which are really one: in 1972 or ’73, I watched Joe Biden leave a Senate meeting room.  As soon as he was gone his own staff erupted in laughter and stories about stupid things the new Senator had said.  About 30 years later I was trapped in an elevator with Senator Biden and some staff.  When he got out on his floor and the doors closed, the back stabbing and derision of 30 years before was again on display….

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

 Clinton Among Top Picks At State

By Anne E. Kornblut and Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, November 15, 2008; Page A01

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is among the top contenders to become secretary of state in Barack Obama‘s administration, officials familiar with the selection process said, part of what appears to be an effort by the incoming president to reach out to former rivals and consider unexpected moves as he assembles his Cabinet.

Read the rest:

Senior China Diplomat Subject of Ridicule, Protest, Curses in Taiwan: Two People from Different Planets

November 6, 2008

He stepped off the plane with a mission: Make history by becoming the most senior Chinese official to visit Taiwan. Sign a landmark trade deal. Draw the wayward island closer to motherland China.

Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin did all those things during his trip that ends Friday. But his five-day visit also highlighted how — socially and politically — Taiwan and China are not merely like two separate countries. They are more like different planets.

While Chen hobnobbed with tycoons and officials on Taiwan’s banquet circuit, he was mocked by comedians, cursed by rowdy street protesters and scrutinized by the island’s aggressive media.

By WILLIAM FOREMAN, Associated Press Writer

China's top negotiator with Taiwan, Chen Yunlin, center, is ... 
China’s top negotiator with Taiwan, Chen Yunlin, center, is escorted by security to his waiting car after being forced to stay for some hours in the Regent Hotel in Taipei, Taiwan, early Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008. Chen was trapped in the hotel during a dinner meeting with ruling party leaders due to a raging protest of over a thousand pro-Taiwan supporters outside the hotel, denouncing his visit. Chen, chairman of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), is on a five-day visit to Taiwan.(AP Photo)

The press dubbed his Elvis-style pompadour hairdo “airplane head.” A newspaper headline asked, “Who knows how much hair gel he uses?”

A popular chant by street protesters who dogged him was, “Chen Yunlin scram!” They unfurled a huge banner from a window at his hotel that called him a “Communist bandit.” He was trapped in a banquet hall past midnight Wednesday by demonstrators who surrounded the venue and blocked traffic.

A nightly TV comedy show that features impersonations of political figures targeted him, too, with a comedian appearing as a stiff, poofy-haired Chen with two thuggish bodyguards at his side and mimicking the slow, stodgy way Chinese leaders speak.

Parody and protests are common in Taiwan’s raucous democracy. They wouldn’t be tolerated in Chen’s communist police state back home, just 100 miles on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. The nation’s top leaders must be respected — by everyone.

Despite the insults and mockery, Chen’s visit was remarkable because it would have been virtually impossible a year ago.

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Without Losing Face, China’s Diplomat Avoids Greeting Taiwan’s President

November 6, 2008

The meeting between Chen Yunlin and President Ma Ying-jeou, the highlight of a four-day visit to the island by Mr Chen, had been overshadowed by controversy over how the Chinese envoy would address his host.

In the event, he successfully ducked the issue – by offering no verbal greeting at all.

Richard Spencer in Beijing
Telegraph (UK)

He could not use Mr Ma’s title, since China does not recognise the Taiwan government’s autonomy.

But he could not address him simply as Mr Ma without paying disrespect to his host – and playing into the hands of Mr Ma’s anti-China opposition, who were already accusing him of selling out to Beijing by inviting him.

Taiwan democratically elected President Ma Ying-jeou (right) made history when he became fisrt leader of the island to meet a senior Chinese leader science the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

Taiwan democratically elected President Ma Ying-jeou (right) made history when he became fisrt leader of the island to meet a senior Chinese leader science the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. Photo: AFP / Getty Images

So during their five-minute public meeting, he uttered just one line, as he handed over a gift of a painting: “I offer this to you. This is by a master artist.”

Mr Chen’s visit is the fruit of a warming of ties between the two former enemies, who are still technically at war. Taiwan is ruled by the same political party that fought the Communist Party for control of China in the 1930s and 40s, and the People’s Republic still claims sovereignty over it.

Mr Ma has improved relations since his election in March by promising not to move towards a declaration of formal independence.

Mr Chen signed a number of trade deals on his visit, but the two sides did not attempt to make progress on all-important security issues, such as the 1,000 missiles the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has targeted at the island.

“We cannot deny that differences and challenges still exist, such as Taiwan’s security and Taiwan’s position in the international community.” Mr Ma said at the meeting.

Mr Ma’s opponents from the Democratic Progressive Party, whom he defeated in the election, staged noisy protests against Mr Chen’s visit and said the president was “selling out” the island.

“Ma is sucking up to China by degrading Taiwan’s sovereignty and this humiliates our country,” said Ko Kai-liang, 40, a chemical company worker.

Nevertheless the visit will be regarded in both Beijing and Taipei as a success – especially the subtlety of Mr Chen’s diplomacy.

For he did not quite fail to address Mr Ma: the picture was of a horse, the meaning of the Taiwanese president’s surname.

Vietnam reacts to U.S. Human Rights Report

March 14, 2008

VietNamNet Bridge – It is regrettable that the U.S. Department State’s 2007 Human Rights Report still does not give objective observations on the real situation in Vietnam and is based on false and prejudiced information, the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Mr. Le Dung made the comment in response to a correspondent’s question regarding Vietnam’s reaction to the U.S. Human Rights Report released on March 11 that mentions issues in Vietnam.


During the past years, Vietnam has made great achievements in ensuring and developing its citizens’ freedom in all fields, including freedom of speech, freedom of press and freedom of information, which, he said, can be clearly seen through the strong development of means of communication, especially the Internet.


These achievements have been recognized and highly appreciated by international community, he added.


Dung went on to say that the State of Vietnam always respects citizens’ rights to freedom and democracy. However, like in other countries, it is unacceptable if these rights are exploited to violate the law.


“Nobody in Vietnam has been arrested for reasons relating to political views or religion, and only those who violate laws are handled in accordance with law,” the diplomat stressed.


Dung said it is normal that Vietnam and the U.S. have differences in human rights issues and called upon increased exchange and dialogue based on equality and without interference in the other’s internal affairs.


These talks would help raise mutual understanding between Vietnam and the U.S. in human rights-related issues as well as contribute to boosting bilateral ties in line with the US-Vietnam Joint Statements issued on May 2005 and October 2006 between the two high-level leaders, he concluded.

Aussie to U.S.: Improve China relations

February 23, 2008

(AP)  CANBERRA, Australia – The U.S. should pursue a more positive dialogue with China, Australia’s top diplomat said Saturday at the close of a daylong series of meetings with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other U.S. leaders.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, right, looks on as Australian ...
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, right, looks on as Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith speaks at a press conference on the conclusion of the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations, in Canberra, Australia, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008. Gates and the Australian defense minister are playing down the potential for friction between the two allies over the new Australian government’s pledge to withdraw combat troops from Iraq.
(AP Photo/Mark Graham)

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith told reporters during a press conference at Parliament House that Canberra‘s growing trade relationship with China will not hurt its strong and long-standing ties with America.

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U.S. diplomat to visit North Korea this week

January 28, 2008
By Arshad Mohammed 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. diplomat will visit Pyongyang this week to try to advance a stalled deal under which North Korea promised to disclose all its nuclear programs and eventually abandon them, a U.S. official said on Monday.

 The U.S. official, who asked not to be named, said Sung Kim, the director of the State Department’s Office of Korean Affairs, was expected to make stops in Seoul on Tuesday and in Beijing on Wednesday before visiting Pyongyang on Thursday.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is pictured claping his hands ...
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is pictured claping his hands to acknowledge soldiers’ salutes during his inspection of a Korean People’s Army unit, in North Korea, in 2006. Kim is likely to visit China in March to discuss economic issues, the South’s Yonhap news agency said Sunday, quoting unnamed sources.

Group claims responsibility for killing U.S. diplomat in Sudan

January 4, 2008

(CNN) — A group calling itself the Partisans of Monotheism in Sudan claimed responsibility Friday for the shooting death of an American diplomat and his driver early New Year’s Day.

The soldiers of monotheism carried out their operation in killing the U.S. diplomat John Micahel Granville and his Sudanese driver, who sold his faith for nothing in this earthly life, … in Riyadh neighborhood east of Khartoum,” the group said in a statement posted in Arabic and English on several Islamist Web sites. The group misspelled Granville’s middle name, which is Michael.

John Granville, seen in an undated family photo, was shot to death in Sudan Tuesday.

The Web sites reported the group, also called Ansar Al-Tawhid, is new.

CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of the statement or the legitimacy of the group.

The State Department was unaware of the claim….

Read a detailed report:

Salute to U.S. Diplomat Killed in Sudan

Salute to U.S. Diplomat Killed in Sudan

January 2, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
January 2, 2008

On New Year’s morning, 2008, a U.S. diplomat serving all his fellow American citizens died in the line of duty in Sudan.

John Granville, 33, an official for the U.S. Agency for International Development, paid the ultimate sacrifice when gunmen opened fire on his car in the capital of Sudan, Khartoum. Mr. Granville’s driver, Abdel-Rahman Abbas, was also killed in the attack.
This undated photo provided Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2008 by the Granville family via WGRZ-TV shows John Granville, right, with his mother Jane Granville.(AP Photo/Granville Family via WGRZ-TV)

This undated photo provided Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2008 by the Granville family via WGRZ-TV shows John Granville, right, with his mother Jane Granville.(AP Photo/Granville Family via WGRZ-TV)

By all accounts, John Granville was a hero that knew and understood both the danger and the importance of his mission. He worked to implement the 2005 peace agreement between Sudan’s north and south that ended more than two decades of civil war. That horrible war’s legacy can still be seen at Darfur, where thousands of refugees have been subjugated, starved, abused, and many international groups say have been the targets of a genocide campaign.

“John’s life was a celebration of love, hope and peace,” a family statement said. “He will be missed by many people throughout the world whose lives were touched and made better because of his care.”

At Peace and Freedom we mourn, pray for and salute John Granville.

Police In Sudan Seek Killers of American Diplomat

By Mohamed Osman
The Associated Press KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudanese authorities on Wednesday questioned witnesses in the slaying of an American diplomat who was shot by gunmen in a drive-by attack in the capital. Sudanese officials insisted the shooting was not a terrorist attack but the U.S. Embassy said it was too soon to determine the motive.Read the rest:
Diplomat Killed in Sudan

US diplomat killed in Sudan shooting

January 1, 2008
By MOHAMED OSMAN, Associated Press Writer
Filed January 1, 2008
1545 GMT

KHARTOUM, Sudan – An American diplomat and his driver were shot to death Tuesday in the Sudanese capital, the U.S. Embassy said, a day after a joint African UnionUnited Nations force took over peacekeeping in Sudan’s Darfur region.

It was not immediately known if the attack had a political motive or was a random crime. Though Darfur, far to the west, is engulfed in violence, the Sudanese capital and its surroundings rarely see political violence or attacks by Islamic militants.

Walter Braunohler, the spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum who confirmed the death of the American, said it was “too early to tell” if the attack was al-Qaida or terror related.

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