Trump and Xi talk trade and tech. U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, met Saturday on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan. As expected, Trump agreed to hold off on imposing new tariffs on the remaining $300 billion in Chinese exports to the U.S. as negotiations resumed. China also agreed to increase purchases of U.S. agricultural goods, a day after the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the apparent resumption of Chinese imports of U.S. soybeans. What was not expected was that Trump said U.S. companies can resume exporting to Chinese telecommunications giants like Huawei, “as long as the sales did not involve equipment that threatened US national security,” after Xi reportedly made such a concession a precondition for resuming talks. It may make sense for the Trump administration to ease off its anti-Huawei campaign in the interest of securing a trade deal. But the U.S. has major military, national security and economic incentives to keep the pressure on Huawei and its Chinese counterparts. We’re still betting that the “tech war” will still be raging for years to come irrespective of whether a trade deal gets reached.
Washington pressures Tokyo on defense. While in Osaka, Trump also confirmed earlier reports that he was unhappy with the U.S.-Japan Mutual Defense Treaty, calling it “unfair” and saying that Tokyo must reciprocate the U.S. commitment to defend Japan if attacked. (Trump denied that he was considering pulling out of the treaty altogether, though.) Tokyo may chafe at U.S. pressure, and a future in which Japanese forces are suddenly fighting alongside U.S. troops in, say, the Middle East won’t come about anytime soon. But in truth, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe probably wasn’t too upset by this. His quest to amend the Japanese constitution to allow clear legal constraints hindering the military’s ability to come to the defense of key allies – and build the power projection capabilities needed to do so – is an endless work in progress. And this may make it a bit easier for Abe to make the case that Japan needs to be ready to prove its worth as an ally farther afield – or stand on its own if the U.S. bugs out altogether.
Trump and Kim at the DMZ? Meanwhile, Xi also called for Trump to hold another summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Shortly before heading to Seoul for a state visit, Trump said he’s hopeful that a third summit will indeed happen and suggested it take place at the Demilitarized Zone. North Korea responded positively. The two sides have plenty to discuss. But there’s still nothing to suggest North Korea is truly willing to denuclearize, even if Xi and South Korean President Moon Jae-in continue to insist otherwise. And there’s no indication that the U.S. is quite ready to engage with North Korea as a nuclear power. There are plenty of lesser issues for the U.S. and North Korea to negotiate, including the size and shape of North Korea’s nuclear and missile arsenals and its behavior as a nuclear state. But until one side or the other budges on the big-ticket issue, it’s hard to see much progress being made at the negotiating table.
- A spokesperson for the Libyan National Army accused Turkey of intervening in Libya’s ongoing civil war and warned that Turkish ships or companies operating in Libya were now LNA targets.
- Tehran said progress during last-ditch talks with remaining members of the Iran nuclear deal was insufficient to persuade it to refrain from breaching limits on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
- President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed Turkey’s impending purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held “positive talks” at the G-20 amid the two countries’ intensifying disputes.
- The seventh round of talks between the U.S. and the Taliban kicked off in Doha. To mark the occasion, Taliban fighters killed 26 members of a pro-government militia.
- Members of the Organization of American States concluded two days of meetings on Friday without a clear plan for increasing pressure on embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, despite a majority vote to recognize a representative from the country’s opposition.
- The Trump administration placed new sanctions on Maduro’s son.