Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered 10 foreign ambassadors who called for the release of a jailed philanthropist to be declared persona non grata. The envoys include the U.S., French and German representatives in Ankara. They had issued a statement earlier this week calling for a resolution to the case of Osman Kavala. He's a businessman and philanthropist held in prison since 2017 despite not having been convicted of a crime. Erdogan made the announcement Saturday during a rally in the western city of Eskisehir. The other countries are Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and New Zealand.
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France on Friday urged Iran to curb nuclear activities of “unprecedented gravity” as U.S. and European envoys met to discuss efforts to revive the troubled 2015 Iran nuclear deal. U.S. envoy Robert Malley joined counterparts from France, Britain and Germany at Friday’s meetings in Paris. The French Foreign Ministry called it a “critical time” in efforts to salvage the accord. The 2015 accord was aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for a lifting of crippling sanctions. The U.S. pulled out of the accord under Donald Trump and re-imposed sanctions. Since then Iran has stepped up nuclear activity and is now in violation of several aspects of the deal.
China is saying there is “no room” for compromise or concessions over the issue of Taiwan, following a comment by U.S. President Joe Biden that the U.S. is committed to defending the island if it is attacked. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson reasserted China’s longstanding claim that the island is its territory. China has recently upped its threat to bring Taiwan under its control by force if necessary by flying warplanes near the island and rehearsing beach landings. The spokesperson says China's strong determination to defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity should not be underestimated.
The United Nations envoy for Syria says the first round of talks between the government and the opposition to draft constitutional reforms in Geneva ended in disappointment and no new date has been set for the next meeting. The talks started Monday following a nine-month hiatus of the U.N.-led meetings of the Syrian constitutional committee where government, opposition and civil society are represented. Envoy Geir Pedersen said discussions on Friday were a “big disappointment” when it was time to find a provisional agreement or at least identify areas of disagreement. He said more talks needed to shape the drafting process.
The U.N. special envoy for Myanmar is warning that February's military takeover has led to armed conflict and if power isn’t returned to the people in a democratic way the country will go in the direction of a failed state. Christine Schraner Burgener told U.N. reporters Thursday that the conflict between the military and civilians and ethnic minorities is intensifying in many parts of the country. The repression of the military has led to more than 1,180 deaths, she said, noting that the army uses a range of tactics against civilian populations, including burning villages, looting properties, mass arrests, torture and execution of prisoners, gender-based violence and random artillery fire into residential areas.
The head of the U.N. agency promoting gender equality is warning that increasingly vast military expenditures and the exclusion of women from peace negotiations are risking renewed conflicts instead of promoting peace and stability. Sima Bahous told the U.N. Security Council Thursday that curbing military spending has been a strategic objective of the women’s movement for peace for many decades. But even as the COVID-19 pandemic was raging and the global economy was shrinking in 2020, worldwide military expenditures increased by 2.6% to nearly $2 trillion. She says evidence “clearly shows that high levels of military spending in post-conflict setting increase the risk of renewed conflict."
A senior U.S. official says the United States is at a turning point in deciding how to handle the crisis in military-ruled Myanmar, weighing further political and economic steps to pressure the government to change its behavior. U.S. State Department Counselor Derek Chollet told The Associated Press that the humanitarian and security situation is getting worse in Myanmar, while the economy suffers amid the lack of political progress. The U.S. has been one of the most vocal opponents of the military takeover that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in February. Suu Kyi was arrested and detained with top members of her party. Chollet says there are political and economic levers that can be pulled by the U.S. and others to pressure the government.
Israel’s new environmental protection minister has set some ambitious goals: Tamar Zandberg believes she can use her office to play an important role in the global battle against climate change while also promoting peace in the volatile Middle East. Zandberg laid out her agenda in an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the upcoming U.N. climate conference in Glasgow. Zandberg says that Israel, despite its small size and struggles to meet a global zero-emissions target, could be a key player because of its expertise in green technologies. She also says shared environmental concerns provide an important opportunity for cooperation with the Palestinians and Israel's other Arab neighbors.
President Joe Biden’s pick for ambassador to Beijing has told lawmakers considering his nomination that Americans should “have confidence in our strength” when dealing with the rise of China, a nation he says the U.S. and its allies can manage. Nicholas Burns is a former senior State Department official and diplomat with decades of experience in Washington and overseas. He testified Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a time when the Biden administration is trying to swing U.S. focus overseas to managing competition with China. The post of China ambassador stands to be one of the most important for U.S. foreign policy.
Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he did nothing improper but still fell short in his handling of the fatal police shooting of a Black teenage seven years ago in the city. The incident looms large as Emanuel hopes to win Senate confirmation as President Joe Biden’s ambassador to Japan. Several liberal House lawmakers and activists have urged the Senate to reject Emanuel’s nomination over his handling of the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times as he he moved away from police on a Chicago street. Emanuel’s hearing before a Senate committee on Wednesday came on the seventh anniversary of McDonald’s killing.