25 February 2018   Leave a comment

The South Korean press is reporting that the North Korean delegation to the Winter Olympics indicated to South Korean officials that it was interested in discussions with the US.   The level of detail in the report lends great credence but the terms for the discussion are not known.  According to Reuters, the White House issued a statement that “We will see if Pyongyang’s message today, that it is willing to hold talks, represents the first steps along the path to denuclearization”.  The statement could be interpreted as a slight change in the US position which had held that denuclearization was a precondition for negotiations.  But US Secretary of State Tillerson has not held that hardline position despite the statements of other officials, so it may simply indicate a degree of disarray in the foreign policy decision making process.

 

The Syrian cease-fire, ordered by the UN Security Council, immediately failed.  Syrian government troops kept up their attack on the eastern part of the city of Ghouta, apparently within minutes of the resolution being passed.  The failure of the cease-fire suggests that Russia, which voted in favor of the resolution, does not have either the will or the capability to exert influence on its Syrian government ally.  The UN failure reflects the inherent weakness of the UN as an international organization on issues that relate directly to the national interests of the Permanent Members of the Security Council.

 

The Chinese press is reporting that the Chinese constitution will remove the phrase that the President and Vice-President “shall serve no more than two consecutive terms”.  The change will allow the current President, Xi Jinping, to go for a third term.  If Xi decides to take a third term, he will solidify his place as the most dominant Chinese leader since Mao Tsetung.  The change also signals a lessening of the commitment to restraints on authoritarian leadership, a deeply troubling sign for the state of Chinese democracy.

President Xi Jinping

Posted February 25, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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