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Kim and Xi meet in Beijing. Photo: Xinhua/Ju Peng via Getty Images

With North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in sitting down for talks, and a summit between Kim and President Trump looming, denuclearization is at the top of mind in Washington — but it's not the only issue on the table.

Why it matters: Trump and Kim will have to balance a number of competing interests if they want to reach any sort of lasting accord.

South Korea
  • South Korea is pushing for a permanent peace deal to replace the current ceasefire, per Yonhap News.
  • Seoul also wants to work towards reunification, though they're not expecting to get there any time soon.
Japan
  • Japan is focused on the abduction of its citizens (which Trump has said he'll raise with Kim), and wary of the idea of winding down sanctions on the North Korean regime. "Japan wants to punish North Korea," Jim Walsh, an international security expert at MIT who has taken part in previous negotiations with North Korea.
  • If an eventual deal leaves intact the North’s short and medium-range missiles, which could target Japan, it “might show the U.S. sees its own homeland security as more important than its allies,” says Mira Rapp-Hooper, a senior research scholar at Yale Law School’s China Center.
Russia
  • “The Russians, above all, are interested in demonstrating that they are still a major global power, and that Russia’s opinion matters, including in the context of North Korea,” Dean Cheng of the Heritage Foundation says. The Russians, “as a matter of course, don’t like to be left out of anything,” says Rapp-Hooper.
  • Russia also doesn't like the idea of "the U.S. and China getting too close and cooperating on North Korea," Yuki Tatsumi of the Stimson Center told Axios, so they're willing to offer North Korea a lifeline if China squeezes too hard.
China
  • China is interested primarily in stability on the peninsula, including avoiding conflict or a humanitarian crisis, given its mutual defense pact with the North and their shared border.
  • But beyond that, China, like Russia, also wants to make sure “no grand bargain with North Korea that leaves them out” is drawn up, Rapp-Hooper said. China also has an interest in rebuilding its relationship with North Korea along the way.

Go deeper

25 mins ago - World

Barbados becomes a republic, replacing U.K. queen with president

Combination images of Dame Sandra Mason, president of Barbados, and Britain's Prince Charles at her swearing-in ceremony in Bridgetown, Barbados, late Monday.

Barbados officially became a republic at midnight local time after Dame Sandra Mason was sworn in as the Caribbean nation's first president in a ceremony attended by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles.

Why it matters: Mason replaced Britain's Queen Elizabeth as head of state Tuesday — removing the country's final remaining colonial tie to the U.K. almost 400 years after the first British ships arrived in Barbados.

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.