- North Korean state media has confirmed that leader Kim Jong-un will travel to Russia “soon” for his first ever meeting with Vladimir Putin. According to the Kremlin, the meeting will take place “in the second half of April”.
- Speculation is growing that the two leaders will meet in Russia’s eastern port of Vladivostok, just hours from their shared border, later this week. The last North Korea-Russia bilateral meeting was in 2011, when then President Dmitry Medvedev met Kim Jong-il.
- Alexey Muraviev, of the Curtin University in Australia, says North Korea has to show the US “they’re not in isolation … If they can show that major powers are still backing them up, this will give them additional bargaining power to talk to the US and China.”
- After the failure of the Hanoi talks between the US and North Korea, a meeting with Kim is a good opportunity for Putin to put Moscow back on the playing field. Moscow sees denuclearization as an unrealistic goal, so the Kremlin instead wants talks with Pyongyang aimed at stabilizing the situation.
Financial Times – Martin Wolf / The age of the elected despot is here
- We live in the age of charismatic elected would-be despots. Most surprisingly, such leaders have been emerging in well-established democracies. But these democracies are eroding: Freedom in the World 2019 reported a 13th consecutive year of decline in the global health of democracy.
- When faith in sober policymaking disappears, the charismatic figure emerges as the oldest kind of leader of all: the tribal chieftain. When things become this elementary, the difference between developing and so-called advanced democracies can well melt away.
- Why was Trump elected? One reason is the fear and anger caused by the financial crisis and cultural changes. Another reason is the willingness of parts of the elite to exploit such emotions, to achieve huge tax cuts and eliminate regulation. This approach may be called “pluto-populism”.
- De-institutionalised rule by elected strongmen might be even worse than institutionalised rule by an appointed leader, such as China’s Xi Jinping. The politics of fear and rage bend towards tyranny.
South China Morning Post – Jane Cai / Belt and road reflects reality that China is now a world power, Spanish foreign minister says
- “[The belt and road] is proof that China is no longer considering itself a net receiver and starts considering itself a contributor to the world, and this is something Spain welcomes,” said Josep Borrell, Spain’s foreign minister, who will attend the Belt and Road Forum that begins in Beijing tomorrow.
- Spain has not officially joined the programme, but it has worked with China on some belt and road projects. For example, Chinese state-owned shipping company Cosco now holds a majority stake in Noatum Port Holdings, the Spanish firm operating ports in Valencia and Bilbao, while a direct freight train link has been launched between the Chinese city of Yiwu and Madrid.
- “Spain considers [the belt and road] still has positive potential to show, as long as some principles that in the EU we consider essential are taken into account: financial, labour and environmental sustainability of the projects, comprehensiveness of connectivity, respectful of international law, level playing field for all the parties involved,” said Borrell.
- Playing down a policy paper from the European Commission in March that labelled China as a “systemic rival”, Borrell said people should not overreact to it. “The EU has always addressed China on the basis that good friends are able to talk frankly about their disagreements and reach compromises at the negotiation table,” he said.
- The Economist / China’s maritime ambitions are becoming more evident
Foreign Policy – Elias Groll / The Islamic State’s new afterlife
- As the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka demonstrate, ISIS is achieving a menacing afterlife around the world—thanks perhaps in part to the return of its members to their homelands. The Sri Lanka attacks were the group’s deadliest outside the borders of Iraq and Syria.
- Terrorism analysts argue it is highly unlikely that a relatively unknown group would have been able to carry out a coordinated attack using a large amount of reliable explosives hitting multiple targets without some kind of assistance from a foreign group.
- Sri Lankan officials have said the attack may have been carried out as an act of retaliation for last month’s slaughter at two mosques in New Zealand, although ISIS has made no reference to a motive of retaliation.
- Sunday’s attack in Sri Lanka was not the only one carried out in the name of ISIS that day. In Saudi Arabia, a group of fighters loyal to the group attacked a domestic intelligence office. A day earlier, a suicide attack in Kabul claimed by ISIS left seven people dead. And last week, ISIS claimed responsibility for its first attack in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which left eight people dead.
The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.