The push to advance U.S.-Poland relations is gaining momentum. A mutual distrust of Russia is the bedrock of their relationship, and so it was with Russia in mind that the U.S. and Polish presidents recently met. Andrzej Duda renewed Warsaw’s request for a greater U.S. military presence, one that would establish a permanent base and more troops. Donald Trump would seriously consider the move, especially since Poland offered $2 billion to help fund the project. Poland also expressed its desire for the U.S. to help stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from moving forward, and though the U.S. does not support the project, it stopped short of imposing sanctions on the companies that do. Instead, Washington will counter Russia’s energy influence in other ways, including more liquefied natural gas shipments and terminal development.
Kim Jong Un has offered concessions to keep talks alive with the U.S. After two days of landmark meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Kim said the North would dismantle its nuclear production site at Yongbyon if the U.S. took reciprocal actions. (He did not specify what he had in mind.) He also said the North would dismantle a key missile engine testing facility and launch pad — and pledged to allow international inspectors to witness the occasion. Meanwhile, Kim and Moon also agreed to a slew of small but tangible measures to nudge forward their own diplomatic process, including establishing a buffer zone around the DMZ and building a cross-border rail line. We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: When Kim talks about denuclearizing, he’s not actually talking about giving up his nuclear weapons. Wednesday’s announcements, then, should be seen as a signal that there’s room to negotiate on the size and shape of the North Korean nuclear arsenal, not on the existence of the arsenal itself. They should also be seen as a way to get the U.S. to allow Pyongyang’s fragile reconciliation with Seoul to proceed.
North Africa may be heating up. In Libya, U.S. reconnaissance planes have allegedly resumed flights over Tripoli as reports surfaced that nearby fuel depots have been attacked. The Islamic State is also reported to be grouping there. In Algeria, German Chancellor Angela Merkel paid a visit to discuss regional security issues such as migration. The visit comes as President Abdelaziz Bouteflika continues to purge the Algerian military. In Morocco, security forces have arrested a dozen people on suspicion of terrorism. A few days earlier, Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita accused Iran of trying to destabilize North Africa, charges Iran strongly denies. All this activity marks a break in the relative calm that had characterized North Africa of late.
- Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told foreign journalists that he was “ready and willing” to open a dialogue with the Trump administration.
- As promised, China placed tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. imports. This includes a 10 percent duty on liquefied natural gas that will take effect Sept. 24.
- The European Commission published its first take on how to update global trade in a way that counters market distortions.
- Russia, Mongolia and China are exploring ways to build a trilateral economic corridor. Proposals are expected to be submitted soon.
- Pakistan adjusted its tax regime. It will raise taxes on banking transactions and luxury goods, and the personal income of high-earning persons and government officials are no longer exempt. Petroleum development and export-oriented industries were spared, as was much of the general public.