Today is the National Day of Catalonia. The celebrations, which could bring out more than 400,000 people, are expected to reignite calls for independence, though pro-independence political parties are divided on how to proceed. Catalan President Quim Torra said he hopes National Day will help to solve that problem by bringing the parties under the same banner. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who came to power just last June, opposes secession but still plans to engage the region in dialogue. His position acknowledges the obvious: that Catalan secession isn’t some passing fad – in July, 46.7 percent of Catalans favored an independent state while 44.9 percent did not, according to a poll by the Centre d’Estudis d’Opinio – but that Madrid can’t afford to surrender parts of its territory. Now as before, other European governments, and their separatist regions, are watching closely.
Pakistan’s government can’t decide how to deal with its emerging financial crisis. China has been a major source of loans, but Islamabad is worried about falling into a debt trap. The newly formed Economic Advisory Council suggested a more independent approach that involves extreme import restrictions. Prime Minister Imran Khan swore off getting yet another bailout from the International Monetary Fund, but the option is apparently still available, now that the United States has allegedly reversed its position by saying it will no longer obstruct Pakistan’s efforts to secure it. How Pakistan manages the coming crisis will at least partly determine how it aligns with international powers.
The U.S. and Turkey are shoring up international military support ahead of a potential attack on Idlib. Yesterday, U.S. security officials discussed plans with the U.K. and France about a coordinated attack on Syria in the event Damascus used chemical weapons. Today, the U.S. will lead a U.N. Security Council meeting on Idlib. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the international community to “understand their responsibilities” and warned that “the consequences of inaction” over a Syrian ground offensive “are immense.” Turkey will host representatives from Russia, Germany and France in Istanbul on Sept. 14 to discuss Syria. A summit with these countries’ presidents is expected to come shortly thereafter.
Kim Jong Un wants to jumpstart nuclear talks in person. That was the gist of the North Korean leader’s latest letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, the White House said Monday, adding that it was also in the process of coordinating a second nuclear summit. U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton threw cold water on the idea, though, referring to a second summit as merely hypothetical and unlikely to take place in the next few months. This comes two days after the North refrained from showing off its arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles in its latest military parade – an important departure from past parades. The North is pursuing essentially the same strategy it has been since the first summit was announced – prolonging the diplomatic process as long as possible and trying to keep the views of Trump’s more hawkish advisers from gaining traction with the president.
- Top officials from the U.S. and Canada resume NAFTA negotiations today.
- Russia started its Vostok 2018 military exercise, the country’s largest drill since 1981. The exercise will take place in eastern Siberia and will include 300,000 soldiers, 36,000 military vehicles, 1,000 planes and 80 warships.
- Nationwide protests erupted in Guatemala after President Jimmy Morales shut down an international anti-corruption commission.
- The U.S. government is considering imposing sanctions on China over human rights violations against minority Muslim populations.
- Despite U.S. sanction, Iran, Russia and Turkey reportedly have advanced mechanisms in place to continue oil sales, provide basic goods, expand banking ties and use non-dollar currencies when conducting trade.