One Small Step Across the Border Between Two Koreas
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Kim Jong Un’s unprecedented step over the ankle-high concrete slab dividing the Korean Peninsula resulted in a commitment to get rid of his nuclear weapons and finally end a war that has simmered with an uneasy truce since the 1950s.
The North Korean leader shared a host of warm moments with South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in: holding hands, planting a tree and chatting privately for about 30 minutes. Kim declared an “era of peace,” while Moon said “we will never go back.”
In some ways, this is all new. Kim became the first North Korean leader to enter South Korea, and address reporters live on television. He offered to visit Moon’s office in Seoul and said the leaders should meet frequently.
Yet when it comes to giving up his nuclear weapons, nothing much has changed. The statement mentioned a common goal of “complete denuclearization” without providing details.
U.S. President Donald Trump will want much more than that if he meets Kim in the coming weeks. In an ominous sign, shortly after Kim spoke North Korea’s state-run media chided the U.S. for continuing to brandish “the rotten ‘sanctions’ stick.”
After the show | German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets Trump for lunch at the White House today after the pomp and occasional weirdness of her French counterpart’s state visit. Emmanuel Macron failed to win any commitments on either the Iran nuclear deal or the threat of tariffs on European exporters, so there’s plenty of work left for Merkel.
Mueller at risk | Trump gave one of his biggest hints yet that he’s considering shutting down Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe onto alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election. The president told “Fox and Friends’’ that although he’s opted not to interfere so far “I don’t have to take this position and maybe I’ll change.’’ Lawmakers from both parties say any meddling by Trump would create a constitutional crisis.
We don't need you | The European Union’s Brexit negotiator said U.K. banks will face similar restrictions to U.S. institutions after the divorce in 11 months' time, and issued a stark warning that markets should prepare for a messy, no-deal breakup.
The easy part | Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is as secure as any Trump administration official can be. He’s close to the president, understands Congress and has been welcomed by subordinates desperate for better leadership. The question looming over Pompeo a day after his swearing-in: How long can the honeymoon last?
The Thucydides trap | China will become the dominant economic power in Asia in the near term but will not displace the U.S. militarily, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak said in an exclusive interview. He also stressed the need for the major powers to act in a “constructive” way to contain the potential military tensions when a new power emerges to rival a hegemon like the U.S.
What to watch:
- Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi are holding a series of “informal’’ one-on-one meetings in China today and tomorrow in an attempt to reduce bilateral tensions.
The wait is over for the Royal watchers… Fans have been in tizzy speculating on the name of the latest addition to the British royal family and Brits were feverishly placing bets. The baby will be known as His Royal Highness Prince Louis of Cambridge.
And finally... Two different high-profile sexual abuse cases produced opposite results yesterday. In Spain, thousands of people demonstrated after five men were cleared of raping a teenage girl in 2016, with the judges arguing there was no indication of physical aggression. Stateside, 80-year-old Bill Cosby was found guilty of drugging and molesting an acquaintance in 2004, marking the downfall of one of the U.S.’s most famous television stars.
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