ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 05/07/2018

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The New York Times – David E. Sanger / How Trump went from ‘fire and fury’ to dismissing North Korean nuclear advances

  • The recent revelations of seemingly modest North Korean progress on missile technology and the production of nuclear fuel — including continued work on a new nuclear reactor that can produce plutonium — have not dimmed the enthusiasm of US President Donald Trump after meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.
  • Turning the enthusiasm into a concrete, verifiable agreement is now the job of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is leaving Washington early Thursday for North Korea. It will be his third trip there, but the first to flesh out a timetable and a common understanding of what the Singapore commitment to “work toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” really means.
  • There have been no North Korean missile or nuclear tests since November. But a freeze and denuclearization are completely different things. The big question is whether Kim is truly ready to change course or playing for time with Trump — as his father and grandfather did with the past four presidents.
  • One thing is clear: The Trump administration has not uttered the phrase “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization” in weeks, and Pompeo has also softened his tone. Some US officials say that South Korea urged getting rid of the everything-must-be-dismantled-immediately approach.

South China Morning Post – Yu Jie / How Trump can bring China and the European Union closer, if they can be pragmatic about their wish lists

  • Europe remains disengaged in Asian geopolitical struggles. Brussels has shown no interest or capacity to get involved in the global power struggles between Beijing and Washington. Instead, China is viewed almost exclusively in economic terms.
  • Decision-makers in Beijing are very clear about what China wants from the EU. First, free access to the European single market. Second, a secure home for its investments. Third, a meaningful diplomatic alternative to its increasingly fractious and erratic relationship with the United States of America.
  • The EU has been at odds with all three of these “wants” from China. In particular, Brussels perceives China’s extensive investments with anxiety; a further source of pressure on the bloc’s fragile unity. Although this anxiety may be excessive, China should make genuine attempts to generate positive economic well-being in investment destinations, and not merely treat the involved European partners as vehicles for its benefit alone.
  • China and the EU should not impose their individual “unrequited wants” and return to enmity. Instead, they should find common ground to defend against the belligerent isolationism of Trump’s foreign policy, which threatens economic prosperity across the globe.

Politico – Matthew Karnitschnig / Trump envoy seeks to sweet talk Germany Inc. out of Iran

  • In a bid to coax German companies active in Iran away from the Islamic Republic, US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell has quietly begun engaging business executives with an offer to help them tap the much larger and lucrative US market, according to people briefed on the talks.
  • Many German companies viewed Iran as an attractive opportunity – in particular, mid-sized companies focused on building and maintaining infrastructure. Iran’s proximity (it’s just a 5-hour flight from Germany) and the lack of major competition made it all the more appealing.
  • The US decision to reactivate sanctions changed that calculus. While the EU has vowed to try to protect European companies, for many, the risks of staying might be too great. In addition to easier access to the US, Grenell is offering German companies another carrot: improved ties with Saudi Arabia.
  • Relations between Germany and Saudi Arabia have been strained over Berlin’s decision to halt weapons exports to all countries involved in the war in Yemen.
  • Politico – Joshua Posaner / German defense minister strikes back on NATO spending target

The Guardian – Ruth Maclean / Foreign troops should not be fighting in Niger, says country’s president

  • The president of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, has said American and other foreign troops working in his country should limit themselves to providing training, equipment and intelligence, not fighting jihadists.
  • Issoufou chairs the G5 Sahel, a joint effort by five west African countries (Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad) to try to bring the vast, arid Sahel under control.
  • “The G5 Sahel’s objective is not just to fight terrorism – it’s also working on development. Why does terrorism arise in certain areas of the Sahel? Because of poverty. Security and development go together,” said Issoufou.
  • According to Issoufou, Niger is doing its part to keep the number of people crossing the Mediterranean low, but Europe should do more to support Niger in addressing the root causes of migration by fighting poverty and creating jobs.

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