Trump thanks Albania for expelling Iranian diplomats

File photo showing US President Donald Trump standing during a joint statement with Singapore's PM at the White House. (Reuters)
Updated 20 December 2018
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Trump thanks Albania for expelling Iranian diplomats

  • Albania’s Foreign Ministry said the two diplomats were expelled for “violating their diplomatic status”

TIRANA, ALBANIA: US President Donald Trump has thanked Albania for expelling the Iranian ambassador and another diplomat for allegedly engaging in illegal activities that threaten Albania’s security.
Trump’s letter to Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, dated Dec. 14, thanked him “for your steadfast efforts to stand up to Iran and to counter its destabilizing activities and efforts to silence dissidents around the globe.”
The US Embassy in Tirana published the letter on its Facebook page on Thursday.
Albania’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said the two diplomats were expelled for “violating their diplomatic status” following talks with other countries, including Israel.
Trump’s letter said the expulsion “exemplifies our joint efforts to show the Iranian government that its terrorist activities in Europe and around the world will have severe consequences.”
Iran blamed the United States and Israel for the expulsions. The official IRNA news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying that “Albania has become an unintentional victim of the United States, Israel and some terrorist groups.”
The spokesman said the US and Israel are working to destroy relations between Iran and European countries, and that Albania should not allow others to dictate its relations with Tehran.
Shahin Gobadi of Iran’s National Council of Resistance based in Paris, France, also hailed Albania’s expulsion of the two diplomats as “a very necessary and courageous act.”
Albania is home to 2,500 members of the Iranian opposition group in exile Mujahedin-e Khalk, who moved from Iraq.
Gobadi said “The clerical regime’s embassies in Europe are centers of terrorist acts against the dissidents.”
He said two plots of the Iranian regime were foiled, one in Albania — an attempt to bomb the Nowruz (Iranian New Year) celebration in March — and the other in a gathering of Iranians in Paris in June, and “the regime*s embassies and diplomats played a major role in both of these foiled terror plots.”
Private Top Channel television reported that the Iranians were suspected of illegal activities related to a World Cup qualifying match between Albania and Israel two years ago.
Albanian media also hinted that cancelation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Albania in November could have been related to a possible plot against him.
Earlier this year, a court in neighboring Kosovo sentenced nine Albanians for planning a foiled attack against the Israeli soccer team during the match in Albania.


UK and Russia hold first talks in over a year

Updated 16 February 2019
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UK and Russia hold first talks in over a year

  • The meeting is the first between ministers from the two countries following the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the English city of Salisbury on March 4
  • The attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, which Britain said was done using a Soviet era nerve agent Novichok, plunged relations to their lowest ebb in decades

LONDON: Junior foreign ministers from Britain and Russia met in Germany on Saturday in the highest-level contact between the two countries since an alleged nerve agent attack in Britain last March froze diplomatic relations.
Britain’s Minister for Europe Alan Duncan held talks with Russia’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov on the margins of the Munich Security Conference, according to the foreign office in London.
“Alan underlined that we have deep differences, and the Russian state would need to choose a different path and act as a responsible international partner before there can be a change in our current relationship with Russia,” it said in a statement.
The meeting is the first between ministers from the two countries following the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the English city of Salisbury on March 4 which Britain has blamed on Moscow.
The attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal, which Britain said was done using a Soviet era nerve agent Novichok, plunged relations to their lowest ebb in decades.
The attack killed a British woman who came into contact with the Novichok, as well as injuring several others including a policeman.
Among a raft of responses, London suspended all planned high-level bilateral contacts between the two countries, and canceled ministers and members of the royal family attending last summer’s World Cup in Russia.
“(The) minister reiterated the UK’s and Allies’ firm stance in response to the Russian state’s reckless use of chemical weapons in Salisbury,” the foreign office added in its statement.
“He made clear that Russia must address the concerns of the international community.
“This includes ending its destabilising activity in Ukraine; and the persecution of the LGBT community in Chechnya.”
The foreign office said Britain would continue to “build and strengthen our cultural ties and people to people links with Russia wherever we can.”
Ministers from around the world, including those from the US, France, Britain, and Germany, are taking part in several days of talks in Munich this weekend centered on global security issues.