The United States means to improve defense and security ties with India, a key player in Washington’s strategy to contain China. Diplomatic and defense officials from both countries recently held a series of talks on the issue, during which they signed a long awaited communications pact that will facilitate the exchange of critical and encrypted defense technologies. The United States pledged to support India’s accession to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an export control regime dedicated to nuclear nonproliferation, and both discussed their efforts to end the conflict in Afghanistan. One important point of contention, though, was Indian imports of Iranian oil, which violates the U.S. sanctions set to go into effect in November. India has reduced its imports, but at 500,000 barrels per day, they are still much higher than what the U.S. wants them to be: zero.

Everyone is preparing for the conflict to come in Syria. Turkey criticized Russia for carrying out airstrikes in Idlib near Jisr al-Shughour. France’s army chief said forces were ready to attack if chemical weapons are used (as they have been rumored to be). Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump criticized any potential offensive on Idlib but stopped short of saying what, if anything, the U.S. would do about it. Damascus is believed to have set Sept. 10 as the deadline for a diplomatic solution to Idlib. Rumor or not, there is a flurry of diplomatic activity underway aimed at preventing a major conflict there. Russia, Iran and Turkey will meet on Friday to discuss.

South Korea is once again mediating the U.S. and North Korea relationship. Diplomacy between the two has stalled. But following Wednesday’s visit by a delegation of senior South Korean security officials to Pyongyang, where they met directly with Kim Jong Un and finalized plans to hold a third inter-Korean summit, there may be an opening to nudge things forward. Kim reportedly told the South Korean envoys that the removal of U.S. troops from the South may not be necessary for the North to agree to a formal declaration of the end of the Korean War after all. Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s top adviser hinted that procuring a list of the North’s nuclear facilities would be enough to get Washington on board. It’s unclear that the North would agree to provide such a list – doing so would expose its facilities to attack, assuming it would even be truthful about those locations. And formally ending the war wouldn’t substantively change anything anyway. The important thing here is that neither side’s demands are deal-breakers. By the standards of U.S.-North Korea negotiations, that’s no small feat.

The U.S. is using Taiwan to agitate China. Washington recently added Taiwan’s defense minister to the guest list for a bilateral defense industry conference scheduled for October. The U.S. Senate has meanwhile proposed the Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that, if passed, will allow the U.S. government to downgrade its diplomatic relationships with countries that don’t recognize Taiwan. For its part, Taiwan has shown its support for the U.S. with the establishment of a medical fund to help Pacific nations, a mostly symbolic gesture that aligns with Washington’s interest in Pacific islands. The weaponization of Taiwan is another example of how the U.S. is going against China on many different fronts – not just tariffs – as part of its broader trade war against the country.

Honorable Mentions

  • Indian farmers and union workers from 23 states marched in New Delhi to demand improved living and working conditions.
  • Greece said it is open to greater military cooperation with the U.S.
  • Poland is calling for a larger role as a lender in the European Investment Bank post-Brexit.
  • According to Brazil’s intelligence agency, clashes between criminal factions are occurring in every state. Federal police also warned of an arms race and turf wars between different criminal groups.
  • The heads of state of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia signed an agreement to enhance cooperation on economic, political, social, cultural and security matters. Their foreign ministers went to Djibouti to discuss its border dispute with Eritrea.