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Morning Brief

Trump Set to Speak at Davos as Impeachment Trial Begins

The U.S. president’s advisors see the World Economic Forum as a chance to show that he’s committed to his duties.

U.S. President Donald Trump exits Marine One to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base on Jan. 20, as he prepares to travel to Davos, Switzerland.
U.S. President Donald Trump exits Marine One to board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base on Jan. 20, as he prepares to travel to Davos, Switzerland. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: U.S. President Donald Trump appears at Davos as his impeachment trial continues in the Senate, the cost of Australia’s bush fires rises, and migrants clash with police on the Mexico-Guatemala border.

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Trump Speaks at Davos as Senate Trial Starts

Today U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to deliver a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The president is missing a pivotal day back in Washington, where the impeachment trial against him is set to begin in earnest in the Senate. With the Davos appearance, Trump’s advisors hope to show that the trial isn’t distracting the president from his duties.

This is Trump’s second trip to Davos, which is attended annually by world leaders and corporate executives. (He missed last year’s event due a partial government shutdown.) In the speech today, Trump is expected to highlight his recent economic victories, including a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico and the “phase one” trade agreement signed with China last week.

Who will Trump meet? The White House has released a list of leaders that Trump will meet, including Iraqi President Barham Salih, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Nechirvan Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government. The meetings come as anti-government protests resume in Iraq and amid hostilities between the United States and Iran.

It was previously reported that Trump would also meet with Ursula von der Leyen, the new president of the European Commission.

Trial rules. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate votes today on ground rules for the impeachment trial laid out by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: that each side would be given 24 hours to present their case, beginning on Wednesday. Trump’s lawyers have also called for a quick trial: In a brief filed on Monday, his legal team called for the Senate to “swiftly reject” the two impeachment charges and acquit the president.

What We’re Following Today

Australia’s bush fires take their toll. As fire conditions in Australia are expected to worsen again this week, the government announced Monday that it would increase emergency funding for small businesses affected by the country’s blazes. The cost of the fires means the government may not deliver on a promised budget surplus. The world’s biggest coal mining company, BHG Group, has warned that poor air quality from the fires could disrupt its operations this year. Australia’s tourism and insurance industries have already reported they are likely to take a hit.

Migrants clash with police on Guatemala-Mexico border. Hundreds of Central American migrants clashed with the Mexican National Guard after they crossed a river from Guatemala into Mexico on Monday. In the process, some children were separated from their parents, Reuters reports. The migrants were part of a group that left Honduras last week, posing a challenge for a Mexican government under pressure from the Trump administration to reduce the number of Central American migrants headed for the United States.

Seven still missing after Himalayan avalanche. Seven hikers and guides are still missing in Nepal after an avalanche hit a trail around Annapurna, the world’s 10th highest mountain, last Friday. Officials have already rescued 200 people, but the search for the missing was called off on Monday amid worsening weather conditions. Last year, Nepal faced a deadly climbing season on Mount Everest, leading to criticism that it had issued too many permits.

Keep an Eye On

Norway’s government. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s ruling coalition fell apart on Monday, after a right-wing party withdrew in response to a controversial decision to repatriate a suspected member of the Islamic State and her children from Syria so that one could receive urgent medical treatment. The political crisis could have ramifications for other European governments already wary of repatriating ex-ISIS fighters.

Angolan corruption probe. The billionaire Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s ex-president, is facing scrutiny from her Lisbon-based bank after tens of thousands of documents were leaked suggesting that she took advantage of money from the Angolan government to increase her own wealth. Angola’s current government has vowed to bring dos Santos back to the country, where she could face corruption charges.

The Wuhan coronavirus. A new pneumonia-causing virus is still spreading in China, and health officials have officially confirmed it is being passed from person to person. Currently the main concerns over the disease are in China itself, particularly if the government is downplaying the health crisis ahead of the Lunar New Year travel season, FP’s James Palmer explains.

Odds and Ends

Sri Lanka hosted a world-record attempt to gather the most twins in one place on Monday, though the event was so overcrowded that officials struggled to count them all. The Guinness World Records organization hasn’t yet confirmed whether the event set a new record. The last one was set in Taiwan in 1999, with a gathering of nearly 4,000 sets of twins.

Flights between Serbia and Kosovo will soon resume for the first time in over two decades under a deal brokered by the United States. Kosovo formally declared independence from Serbia in 2008, though relations remain tense. The decision to resume flights comes as the European Union seeks to resolve ongoing tensions.

That’s it for today.

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Audrey Wilson is an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @audreybwilson

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