SaveSave story

Glimmers of hope in Korea

Kim Jong-un with South Korean chief delegator Chung Eui-yong. Photo: STR / AFP via Getty Images

Following discussions between South Korean and North Korean officials in Pyongyang, North Korea has expressed a willingness to discuss denuclearization with the U.S. if the safety of its regime is guaranteed, according to Bloomberg News. This is the first time since 2003 that the regime has floated denuclearization.

Other breakthroughs, per the AP: The Koreas have agreed to meet at a summit again in April and will establish a telephone hotline between their military leaders to avoid escalation. North Korea also agreed to a moratorium on its nuclear and missile tests if the U.S. comes to the table for direct talks, though President Trump has said negotiation will happen only after denuclearization.

"The North expressed its willingness to hold a heartfelt dialogue with the United States on the issues of denuclearization and normalizing relations with the United States. It made it clear that while dialogue is continuing, it will not attempt any strategic provocations, such as nuclear and ballistic missile tests."
— Statement from Seoul, via NYT

The big picture: Direct talks involving the U.S. would be a significant step forward, as recent discussions have just been with South Korea. Any viable solution would likely involve buy-in from other key players, including China and Japan.

How we got here...

  • North Korea knew it had to come to the negotiating table. This comes just after the U.S. slapped the biggest-ever sanctions package on the regime in addition to crippling rounds of international sanctions.
  • The two Koreas showed unity at the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea and opened a dialogue, but the North Koreans scheduled and then cancelled a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence.
  • South Korean negotiators spent Monday and Tuesday in Pyongyang engaged in talks with Kim Jong-un.
  • President Trump has greeted the news with cautious optimism on Twitter. But Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told lawmakers, "I'm quite skeptical about all of this."

Go deeper: How North Korean diplomacy has failed in the past

Zachary Basu 3 hours ago
SaveSave story

How top world leaders reacted to Putin's re-election

Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Vladimir Putin cruised to victory in Russia's presidential election Sunday, gaining 76.7% of the vote in a contest widely condemned for ballot stuffing and a lack of genuine competition. Nonetheless, leaders around the world have publicly and privately congratulated Russia's strongman as he embarks on his 18th year as head of state.

Why it matters: Putin's list of congratulations give a window into the geopolitical state of play in Europe and around the world. It's worth reading into the language of the leaders who chose to reach out — and, perhaps more notably, those who didn't.

Dave Lawler 4 hours ago
SaveSave story

Former French president held over claims Gaddafi funded campaign

Sarkozy welcomes Gaddafi to France in 2007. Photo: Xavier ROSSI/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was taken into police custody on Tuesday over claims Muammar Gaddafi, the late Libyan dictator, spent millions to fund Sarkozy's successful 2007 presidential campaign. Sarkozy, who denies the allegations, welcomed Gaddafi to France for a five-day state visit in 2007. Four years later later, Sarkozy played a key role in the NATO campaign that ultimately toppled Gaddafi's regime.

Why it matters, per the AP: "Investigators are examining claims that Gaddafi’s regime secretly gave Sarkozy 50 million euros overall for the 2007 campaign. Such a sum would be more than double the legal campaign funding limit... [and] would violate French rules against foreign financing and declaring the source of campaign funds."