protocol

(diplomacy) (a) A preliminary document or memorandum signed by diplomatic or commercial negotiators which is used as a basis for final negotiations, agreements conventions or treaties. (b) The etiquette and ranking of diplomatic personnel.
(U.S.) U.S. diplomatic ranking is as follows: (1) Ambassadors-at-large have a higher rank than a regular Ambassador and are higher ranked on protocol than, say, the head of the C.I.A.; (2) The Deputy Chief of Mission, almost always a career officer, has the personal rank of Minister which is one rank down from Ambassador; (3) The rank of Minister-Counselor is just a little step below Minister; (4) The Chargé d’Affaires may either be acting, or indefinite, and is regarded as the acting Ambassador when the Ambassador is out of the country or when, for political reasons, an Ambassador is not appointed to a country; (5) An Attaché may be either fairly high or fairly low; in terms of rank an Attaché can be anything; a Military Attaché is of at least medium rank, but the military hold no diplomatic rank; (6) A consulate is not a diplomatic mission, nor is it autonomous; it is established by an international organization (such as U.S. Mission to the European Communities (USEC) or NATO) or is used for reasons of diplomatic snobbery or pique.

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