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Diplomacy

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Cuban counterpart have pledged mutual support over their fellow communist states' “core interests.” Xi's remarks came in a meeting Friday in Beijing with his Cuban counterpart Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez. Xi said China hoped to “strengthen coordination and cooperation" with Cuba. China generally defines core interests as the defense of its economic and political aims and control over territory it claims, especially self-governing Taiwan. No specific issues were mentioned in the Chinese government news release about their meeting. Diaz-Canel arrived in China after a visit to Moscow, where he and Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the “traditional friendship” between their sanctions-hit nations.

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Poland’s government says an anti-missile system which Germany offered to send to Poland should instead go to Ukraine. It's a proposal that is a non-starter for Berlin because it would significantly ratchet up NATO involvement in Ukraine. Poland’s surprising response to Berlin’s offer was welcomed by Ukraine, which is desperate to protect its airspace as barrage upon barrage of Russian missiles have knocked out power across the country. But in Poland, critics of the populist ruling party accused it of sacrificing the country’s security with a war next door in Ukraine for the sake of a domestic political struggle which exploits anti-German sentiment for short-term gain.

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The U.N. Human Rights Council has voted to condemn the bloody crackdown on peaceful protests in Iran and create an independent fact-finding mission to investigate alleged abuses, particularly those committed against women and children. A resolution put forward by Germany and Iceland was backed by 25 nations Thursday, including the United States and many European, Latin American, Asian and African nations. Six countries opposed the move — China, Pakistan, Cuba, Eritrea, Venezuela and Armenia — while 16 abstained. The U.N.’s top rights official had earlier appealed to Iran’s government to halt the crackdown against protesters, but Tehran’s envoy at a special Human Rights Council on the country’s “deteriorating” rights situation blasted the initiative as “politically motivated.”

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The Philippines has sought an explanation from China after a Filipino military commander reported that the Chinese coast guard forcibly seized Chinese rocket debris in the possession of Filipino navy personnel in the disputed South China Sea. China has denied there was a forcible seizure and said the debris from a recent Chinese rocket launch was handed over by Philippine forces after a “friendly consultation.” Sunday's incident off Philippine-occupied Thitu island is the latest flareup in the long-seething territorial disputes involving China, the Philippines and four other governments. A Philippine spokesperson said a diplomatic note was relayed to China for “clarification from the Chinese side over the incident.”

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The European Union’s top diplomat says Kosovo and Serbia have reached a deal on a dispute over vehicle number plates, defusing rising tension between the two Western Balkan neighbors. The EU’s high representative, Josep Borrell, posted in his social media page that Kosovo’s and Serbia’s negotiators “have agreed to avoid further escalation and to fully concentrate on the proposal on normalization of their relations.” Earlier this week Borrell had failed to convince the two countries' leaders to do that, raising concerns in Brussels. The EU-backed Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue, which is aimed at normalizing relations between the former foes in the Western Balkans, has been at a virtual standstill for years.

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Turkey’s president has again hinted at a possible new ground offensive in Syria against Kurdish militants, even as Russia urged restraint and called on Ankara to avoid an escalation. The Russian presidential envoy in Syria called on Turkey “to show a certain restraint” in order to prevent further escalation in Syria. Fresh airstrikes on Tuesday struck a base that the Syrian Democratic Forces shares with the U.S.-led coalition in the fight against the Islamic State. Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would root out militants. Turkey has said that the airstrikes are aimed at Kurdish militants whom Ankara blamed for a deadly Nov. 13 bombing in Istanbul.

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King Charles III has welcomed South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to London for the first state visit of his reign. It includes a formal banquet as well as talks with government leaders focused on investment and green energy. Charles and Camilla, the queen consort, greeted Ramaphosa during a ceremony on Horse Guards Parade near Buckingham Palace. William and Kate, the Prince and Princess of Wales, also attended. The visit was organized before the death in September of Queen Elizabeth II, a nod to her longtime devotion to the Commonwealth. The last state visit by a South African leader was in 1996, when Nelson Mandela was honored two years after he became South Africa’s first Black president.

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Mali’s government has announced a ban on aid groups that are funded by France. It's the latest attempt by Mali's coup leader to distance the West African country from its one-time colonizer and former military ally. In a statement read late Monday on national television, the government said the decision was effective immediately. The ban apparently applies not only to French non-governmental organizations but also to those receiving "material or technical support from France.” The move immediately raised fears for the hundreds of thousands of Malians currently receiving aid. A collective of collective of non-governmental organizations said it would soon propose “a diplomatic solution” to the government.

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The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has warned the United States that it would face “a more fatal security crisis” as Washington pushes for U.N. condemnation of the North’s recent intercontinental ballistic missile test. Kim Yo Jong’s warning Tuesday came hours after the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations read a statement by 14 countries which supported action to limit North Korea’s advancement of its weapons programs. Kim called that statement “disgusting” and “a wanton violation of our sovereignty." North Korea on Friday tested it most powerful Hwasong-17 missile, which some experts say could potentially strike anywhere in the U.S. mainland.

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The Colombian government and the South American country’s largest remaining guerrilla group have resumed peace negotiations, breaking a roughly four-year hiatus during which the rebels have expanded the territory where they operate. Neighboring Venezuela on Monday hosted representatives of the National Liberation Army and the government of Colombian President Gustavo Petro. The discussions in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas come more than a month after the rebels and Petro’s government announced the resumption of negotiations. The National Liberation Army was founded in the 1960s by students, union leaders and priests who were inspired by Cuba’s revolution. The group is believed to have about 4,000 fighters in Colombia.

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The European Union’s top diplomat has held eight hours of unsuccessful talks with the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo. The EU’s high representative, Josep Borrell, blamed them for their failure to settle their dispute over vehicle license plates, amid rising tensions between the Balkans neighbors. Borrell said both parties showed “unconstructive behavior” and a lack of respect for their international legal obligations. The EU warned Serbia and Kosovo last week that they are on the edge of a precipice and must resolve their dispute or face the prospect of a return to their violent past. Long-simmering tensions between Serbia and its former province mounted in recent weeks over the Kosovo government’s decision to ban Serbian-issued license plates.

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North Korea’s foreign minister has called U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “a puppet of the United States” for joining U.S.-led condemnation of the North’s recent intercontinental ballistic missile test. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier called on the North to “to immediately desist" from more provocations after the North's ICBM launch on Friday. North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui expressed strong regret over Guterres' comments. The U.N. Security Council is scheduled to discuss the North's ICBM test later Monday. But further sanctions are unlikely since Russia and China oppose them.

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Turkey has summoned the Swedish ambassador after images that allegedly insulted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and served as Kurdish militant propaganda were projected on the Turkish Embassy building in Stockholm. State media said Turkish officials condemned the incident and renewed a demand that Sweden take “concrete steps" against Kurdish militants. Sweden and Finland abandoned their longstanding policies of military nonalignment and applied for NATO membership this year after Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February. But NATO-member Turkey has not yet endorsed their accession. It is pressing the two countries to crack down on groups it considers to be terrorist organizations.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping has used his first face-to-face meetings with America’s Asia-Pacific allies since 2020 to forge fresh diplomatic inroads as Washington pushes back against Beijing's influence in the region. Xi has not backed away from China’s longstanding claims to Taiwan and most of the South China Sea. But his comments to various leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Bangkok this week have focused more on Beijing's pivotal economic role for its neighbors. As China's stature has risen, its diplomacy has grown more nuanced than the high-handed approach that has sometimes sparked resentment in the past.

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North Korea has fired an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed near Japanese waters in its second major weapons test this month that showed a potential ability to launch nuclear strikes on all of the U.S. mainland. Japan's defense minister says the missile's range could potentially cover the entire mainland United States. The United States quickly slammed the launch and vowed to take “all necessary measures” to guarantee the safety of its mainland and its allies South Korea and Japan. North Korea’s recent run of weapons tests aims to advance its nuclear arsenal as China and Russia oppose U.S. moves to toughen U.N. sanctions against it.

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A recent boost in titles for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has proven crucial to shielding him from a U.S. lawsuit in the killing of a U.S.-based journalist. The Biden administration told a federal judge in Washington, D.C., that Prince Mohammed's standing as prime minister means he has legal immunity from the lawsuit brought by the fiancee of the late journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The U.S. intelligence community says the Saudi crown prince approved the 2018 killing of the Washington Post columnist. The Biden administration and many legal experts agree that the prime minister post conveys immunity from U.S. courts, but critics call the title change a cynical ploy to evade U.S. courts.

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Police in Northern Ireland say two officers escaped injury when their vehicle was damaged by a homemade bomb. The force says it is treating the attack as attempted murder. The Police Service of Northern Ireland said a blast in Strabane on Thursday night “appears to have been a targeted attack on police.”  An assistant chief constable Bobby Singleton said Friday that “a strong line of inquiry” was whether an Irish Republican Army splinter group known as the New IRA was responsible. A 1998 peace agreement largely ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland involving Irish republican and British loyalist paramilitary groups and U.K. security forces. IRA dissidents continue to mount occasional attacks.

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A combination of climate change and politics is threatening the Tigris-Euphrates river system, one of the world’s most vulnerable watersheds. River flows have fallen 40% in the past four decades as the countries along their length — Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq — have each acted on their own to exploit the water. Rising temperatures are projected to make the drop even worse. Still, Turkey and Iraq, the two biggest water consumers, have been unable to reach a deal on sharing the waters, seen as vital to preserving the rivers. The stakes are high, from Turkish farmers hoping for a windfall from new dams on the rivers, to Iraqis giving up on barren fields no longer reached by river waters.

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The U.N. Security Council has voted to maintain an arms embargo on Somalia over strong objections from its government. The council resolution adopted Thursday says the al-Shabab “terrorist group” still seriously threatens peace and stability in the region, and sanctions are needed to degrade its activities. The resolution also expresses concern at the continued presence of affiliates of the Islamic State extremist group in the Horn of African nation. It was approved 11-0 with Russia, China, Gabon and Ghana abstaining in support of the call by Somalia, backed by the African Union, to lift the arms embargo. The resolution modifies the arms embargo to reflect the government’s progress in improving its management of weapons and ammunition.

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Myanmar’s military-controlled government released an Australian academic, a Japanese filmmaker, an ex-British diplomat and an American as part of a broad prisoner amnesty that also freed many local citizens held for protesting the army takeover. Australia, the U.S. and rights groups welcomed the releases while calling for Myanmar to free others unjustly detained. State media said Australian Sean Turnell, Japan’s Toru Kubota, Briton Vicky Bowman, and American Kyaw Htay Oo were among  5,774 prisoners being freed on a national holiday. Among them was pro-democracy activist Mya Aye, who were arrested Feb. 1, 2021, the day the military seized power. “I will always stand together with the people of Myanmar,” Mya Aye defiantly told the crowd outside the prison after his release.

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Greek authorities say the country's foreign minister has called off the first leg of his visit to Libya, refusing to disembark from his plane after landing in Tripoli. Nikos Dendias accused the Tripoli-based government on Thursday of violating a prearranged agreement and refused to leave the aircraft after discovering that Libya’s foreign minister had arrived to greet him at the airport. Dendias had been scheduled to meet with the Libyan president only. His plane then took off and later landed in Benghazi, in eastern Libya. The fracas comes amid rising tensions following a controversial maritime and gas deal signed between Turkey and Libya’s western, Tripoli-based administration. Libya has two rival administrations, in the country's east and west.

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The foreign minister of ethnically divided Cyprus has offered a bleak outlook for resuming stalled peace talks any time soon. Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides says his government hopes the chances of restarting the talks don't  “get any worse” over the next few months. Greece and Cyprus have accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of engaging in hostile rhetoric and behavior ahead of Turkey’s presidential election in April. A senior United Nations official was in Cyprus on Thursday to gauge the prospects for resolving one of Europe’s most intractable conflicts. Cyprus divided into ethnically Greek and ethnically Turkish sides in 1974, when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece.

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A United Nations official says the U.N. is “cautiously optimistic” a wartime deal that has enabled Ukraine to export grain and Russia to ship its grain and fertilizer to world markets will be renewed. The official said Wednesday that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres discussed an extension of the deal with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia this week and considered the meeting “very positive.” The deal set to expire on Saturday established a Black Sea shipping corridor and inspections process. Under terms of separate agreements signed by Russia and Ukraine, it will be extended for another 120 days unless either Moscow or Kyiv objects.

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In earlier versions of a story published November 15, 2022, The Associated Press reported erroneously, based on information from a senior American intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity, that Russian missiles had crossed into Poland and killed two people. Subsequent reporting showed that the missiles were Russian-made and most likely fired by Ukraine in defense against a Russian attack.

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Bosnia has inaugurated the three members of its new presidency, which for the first time in over a decade is dominated by non-sectarian leaders. The three officials representing the country’s Bosniak, Serb and Croat populations took their oaths inside Sarajevo’s Presidency Building before several dozen ambassadors and politicians. The presidency is part of the complex administration established in peace accords that ended Bosnia’s 1992-95 war by creating Bosniak-Croat and Serb entities joined by central institutions. The new members elected Oct. 2 include Bosniak Denis Becirovic and Bosnian Croat Zeljko Komsic, who belong to multi-ethnic political parties, The third is is Zeljka Cvijanovic from the sectarian Bosnian Serb party SNSD.

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