World News Brief, Thursday May 16

US diplomat to be expelled from Russia on suspicion of spying; Philippine government apologises for Taiwanese fisherman's death; Japanese PM refuses to comment on envoy's surprise trip to North Korea; three coalition troops killed in Afghanistan; UN General Assembly approves resolution for political transition in Syria; and more

Top of the Agenda: Russia Arrests U.S. Diplomat on Charges of Espionage Recruitment

The U.S. ambassador to Russia was summoned to meet foreign ministry officials in Moscow over the case of Ryan Fogle (Guardian), a U.S. diplomat who was arrested and accused of trying to recruit a Russian agent for the CIA. Russia said it will expel Fogle (WaPo), the third secretary at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, and claimed that he was carrying an arsenal of suspected spying equipment. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said he did not bring the matter up with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry when they met at a conference in Sweden on Tuesday.


"No doubt that the new spy scandal has broken out at an extremely inappropriate moment for both sides – just four weeks before Obama-Putin meet in Northern Ireland and only a month after President Obama's national security advisor Tom Donilon's visit to Moscow with a personal letter from Barack Obama to Vladimir Putin," writes Sergey Strokan for RT.

"There is little sign that either country wants to go beyond a minimum response as Washington and Moscow try to improve strained relations and bring the warring sides in Syria together for an international peace conference," writes Timothy Heritage for Reuters.

"I don't think U.S. influence had much to do with the domestic opposition to Putin. His actions may have been driven by a mindset that the United States was out to bring him down, to bring Russia down, to impinge upon what he considers Russia's natural sphere of influence," says Jack F. Matlock, Jr., former U.S. ambassador to Russia, in a CFR interview.



Philippines Apologizes for Taiwanese Fisherman's Death

The Philippine government apologized to Taiwan on Wednesday after coast guards shot dead (AFP) a Taiwanese fisherman, sparking tensions that saw Taipei threaten a naval exercise near Philippine waters. Taiwan's foreign minister met with the de facto Philippine ambassador to Taipei.

This CFR Backgrounder traces the South China Sea conflicts.

JAPAN: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refused to comment on an unexpected trip by a government envoy on Tuesday to North Korea (VOA).


Three coaltion troops killed in Afghanistan

UN General Assembly approves resolution for political transition in Syria

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