An Australian diplomat has died after falling from a New York City balcony while socialising with friends.
Julian Simpson, 30, accidentally slipped from a seventh-floor ledge of his Manhattan building and fell to a landing on the second floor, New York police said. United States media report he was playing a “trust game” with a friend before he fell.
Mr Simpson was a junior diplomat representing Australia at the United Nations. Police were called to the scene about 01:00 local time on Wednesday (06:00 GMT). Mr Simpson was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The Australian envoy had been out with his wife and friends when they returned home to view the Empire State Building, which was lit up to celebrate Australia’s same-sex marriage vote result, police said.
An NYPD spokesperson would not confirm reports that he was playing a “trust” game that involved putting himself at risk and relying on one of his guests to catch him. “He’s described as somebody who liked to play games and had sat on the balcony railing and accidentally lost his balance,” Martin Brown said.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the accident a “shocking tragedy”.
“Our hearts go out to his family but I cannot provide any more details at this stage,” he told the local Seven Network.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she was saddened by the death of Mr Simpson, who she had met recently in New York. “Julian was a diligent, professional and highly skilled diplomat, whose support I valued, during UN Leaders’ Week,” she said. Mr Simpson had been in the US for two years.
Lebanon’s Hariri to fly to Paris within 48 hours: source close to Hariri.
Lebanon’s Saad al-Hariri is expected to leave Saudi Arabia for France within 48 hours, before flying home to Beirut to officially submit his resignation as Lebanese prime minister, a source close to Hariri told Reuters on Thursday.
Hariri announced his resignation in a televised broadcast from Saudi Arabia on Nov. 4, and has not yet returned to Lebanon. He said on Wednesday he would return soon.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun tweeted on Thursday that he hoped the country’s political crisis was over following Hariri’s acceptance of the French invitation.
“I await the return of PM Hariri to Beirut so we can decide on the situation of the government – if he wants to resign or rescind his resignation,” Aoun said, according to presidential sources.
Aoun has previously said he will not accept Hariri’s resignation until he returns to Beirut to tender it and explain his reasons.
The resignation of Hariri pushed Lebanon to the center of an intensifying regional rivalry between Shi‘ite Muslim Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia.
Lebanese presidential sources quoted Aoun on Thursday as saying Lebanon remained committed to its policy of “disassociation, especially among Arab states”. The disassociation policy is generally known in Lebanon to mean staying out of regional conflicts. In his interview on Sunday, Hariri repeatedly called for disassociation to be respected.
French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement on Wednesday that he had invited Hariri to France after speaking to him and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The invitation is to visit for a few days and is not an offer of political exile, Macron said, speaking in Germany.
Hariri is expected to go to France with his family, the source close to Hariri said.
Hariri traveled to Riyadh on Nov. 3 before abruptly resigning a day later, and he has remained in the Saudi capital since then. Top Lebanese officials and senior politicians close to Hariri have told Reuters he was forced to quit. Hariri and Saudi Arabia have both denied he is being held in Riyadh or was coerced to resign.