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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

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Neera Tanden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate Homeland Security Committee is postponing a confirmation hearing scheduled Wednesday for Neera Tanden, Axios has learned, a potential death knell for President Biden's nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

The latest: Asked Wednesday afternoon whether Tanden has offered to withdraw her nomination, Psaki told reporters, "That’s not the stage we’re in." She noted that it's a "numbers game" and a "matter of getting one Republican" to support the nomination.

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Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman wrote in prepared remarks for a House hearing on Thursday that officers in her department were "unsure of when to use lethal force" during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Why it matters: Capitol Police did deploy lethal force on Jan. 6 — shooting and killing 35-year-old Ashli Babbit — but have faced questions over why officers appeared to be less forceful against pro-Trump rioters than participants in previous demonstrations, including those over Black Lives Matter and now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

United CEO is confident people will feel safe traveling again by 2022

Axios' Joann Muller and United CEO Scott Kirby. Photo: Axios

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby believes that people will feel safe traveling again by this time next year, depending on the pace of vaccinations and the government's ongoing response to the pandemic, he said at an Axios virtual event.

Why it matters: Misery for global aviation is likely to continue and hold back a broader economic recovery if nothing changes, especially with new restrictions on international border crossings. U.S. airlines carried about 60% fewer passengers in 2020 compared with 2019.