G-20 Kicks Off in Osaka
Plus: Iran talks continue in Vienna, the aftermath of Ethiopia's attempted coup, and the other stories we're following today.
Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: the G-20 summit kicks off in Osaka, Iran talks continue in Vienna, and the aftermath of Ethiopia’s attempted coup.
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G-20 Kicks Off in Osaka
The president has a busy schedule. The G-20 summit is underway, with all eyes—as usual—on U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump’s Friday’s meetings include one-on-ones with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro—fresh from an embarrassing luggage mishap that landed a member of his entourage in jail (a Brazilian air force officer traveling to Japan was caught during a stopover in Spain with over 85 pounds of cocaine).
Vladimir Putin is ready for the summit. The Russian president set the tone for his upcoming meeting with Trump in an extended interview with the Financial Times by dismissing Russian election interference in the 2016 presidential election as “mythical.” Putin also took aim at western democracies by praising populists and declaring that the idea of liberalism had “outlived its purpose” and become obsolete.
Trump’s last G-20 meeting was canceled as a rebuke to Russia over its detention of Ukrainian sailors. Those sailors remain detained, and critics want the U.S. president to take a harsher stance. “A meeting with Putin becomes a freebie and a big gift to Putin from which we extract very little,” Andrew Weiss of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told FP’s Amy Mackinnon.
Saturday showdown. But those meetings serve as the warmup for Saturday’s main event, kicking off in the early hours of Saturday morning Washington time. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to call a truce of sorts in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies. Serious disagreements still remain, but a brief ceasefire should allow time for negotiating teams to reset, and help China avoid $300 billion in fresh U.S. tariffs.
What We’re Following Today
Iran talks continue. The G-20 isn’t the only high-level diplomatic meeting today, as officials from Iran, France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China meet to discuss the future of the Iran nuclear accord. Despite threats, Iran is still under the 202.8 kilogram limit for enriched uranium as outlined in the 2015 deal, although, at current production rates, it is expected to breach that threshold as soon as this weekend.
Disagreements on Venezuela. The Organization of American States (OAS) convenes in Medellin, Colombia for its final day of talks between the governments of 35 North and South American countries. Cracks are continuing to show in the group’s approach to Venezuela—the Uruguayan delegation withdrew on Thursday to protest the presence of the opposition-led Venezuelan delegation. “It’s a violation of this institution to try to make decisions about who is the legitimate government,” argued Uruguay’s envoy. Representatives of Mexico, Bolivia, and Nicaragua also made objections, but didn’t take Uruguay’s dramatic step.
Ethiopia coup plot. Over 250 people have been arrested in Ethiopia in response to a foiled coup plot last weekend in the northern state of Amhara, according to state television sources. The National Movement of Amhara said that 56 of its members had been detained in the capital, Addis Ababa. The central government appears to be retaining control, as access to the internet has been restored to citizens after being blocked since Saturday.
Keep an Eye On
Record temperatures in Europe. Europe’s heatwave is setting records across the continent. Temperatures are expected to go as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit (45 degrees Celsius) this week. In Spain, the heat is responsible for the worst wildfires in 20 years, with firefighters in Catalonia battling a blaze stretching across a 16,000 acre area.
Double bombings in Tunis. Two suicide bombers struck in Tunisia’s capital, Tunis, causing at least one death. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks. The bombings came the same day the country’s president was rushed to hospital after suffering what officials have called a “severe health crisis.”
“Russia’s Google” hack. Western hackers breached Yandex, known as “Russia’s Google,” in an attempt to spy on user accounts. The malware used in the attack has been used before by the “Five Eyes” alliance of the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada—although none of those countries would comment on the matter to Reuters.
Australian student missing in Pyongyang. The family of Alek Sigley say there is “no change is what is known” about the Australian student believed to have been detained by North Korean authorities. Sigley had been studying in Pyongyang for the past two years, and was preparing to return home prior to his disappearance.
Boris barrels on. Boris Johnson is still the frontrunner in the race to become Conservative Party leader and therefore Britain’s next prime minister. Johnson and his supporters seem unperturbed that his plans to scrap Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement in favor of an improved deal have been deemed a “myth” by the European parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt.
Odds and Ends
India’s national cricket team have had smooth sailing in this year’s Cricket World Cup, remaining unbeaten in all of their matches so far. But off the field, controversy is brewing. Due to a kit clash, India must forgo their traditional blue uniforms for a rumored orange away jersey in their upcoming match against England. The color orange is politically contentious in India, as saffron is the color of Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The choice of color has aggravated opposition politicians, already ill at ease with Modi’s attempts to “saffronise” the country and allow Hindu culture to dominate. India’s bowling coach has dismissed the row, telling the BBC, ”We are focusing on the game and not aware of the color we are getting.”
Later today on FP’s podcast, First Person: Brian Winter, the editor in chief of Americas Quarterly, tells the story of Car Wash, the most sweeping political corruption case in Brazil’s history.
That’s it for today.