LEBANON/USA – The State Department has expressed support for the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon and warned foreign actors against using Lebanon as a proxy for conflicts or in a manner that would destabilize it. In other words, it said ‘Back off Iran’.

BAHRAIN/IRAN – Bahrain blamed an explosion at its main oil pipeline on “terrorist” sabotage and linked it to Iran. Bahrain hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

BURUNDI/ICC – The Presidents of Uganda and Tanzania have condemned a decision by the International Criminal Court to open a war crimes investigation into Burundi, saying it undermined regional peace initiatives.  The court has ordered a formal investigation into crimes committed in Burundi from April 2015 to October 2017.

RT/USA – The U.S. Dept of Justice has required Russia’s state-owned RT TV channel to register as a foreign agent. It will comply but challenge the ruling in court.

N KOREA/USA – Yonhap Agency says little progress has been made in direct talks between the USA and N Korea. The two are in contact through the ‘Track 1.5’“meetings, and at their UN diplomatic missions in New York.

COMING UP – No big set piece event looks like dominating headlines in the way Trump’s Asia tour did last week, but there’s a bunch of stuff bubbling away worth watching. One is the continuing fall out from last week’s dramatic events in Saudi Arabia (see Week That Was). The Erdogan/Putin meeting is interesting not least to see if the leader of a NATO country really is going to buy a missile defence system from a country hostile to NATO. The Ukraine/UN story will make news if there’s progress on a UN force, and there’ll be plenty to pick over when the UK gov publishes its Brexit trade plans.

DIARY

Mon –  31st ASEAN Summit: Philippines. USA, China, Japan, S Korea and others attending.

Mon – Delhi introduces week long car-rationing scheme to try to reduce air pollution.

Mon – Turkish President Erdogan in Sochi to see President Putin. Sale of Russian missile defence system on the agenda.

Mon – 2nd anniversary of the Paris terrorist attacks which killed 130 people.

Mon – Russian/US envoys meet in Serbia to discuss possible UN peacekeeping mission for Eastern Ukraine.

Tues – President Trump heads home after Asian tour.

Tues – Exercises involving 3 U.S. aircraft carriers in Western Pacific ends.

Tues – UK Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill comes before Parliament. Will it include MPs right to vote on final agreement?

Tues – UK Gov to publish details of its post Brexit trade plans.

Tues – US Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies before House of Representatives and will be asked about Russia/Trump campaign allegations.

Weds – Results of Australia’s postal vote on whether gay marriage bill should go to Parliament announced.

Weds – Recently discovered Leonardo da Vinci portrait of Jesus expected to fetch at least $100 million at auction in New York.

Weds – U.S. Sec of State Tillerson in Burma to discuss Rohingya crisis.

Thurs – Belgian court decides whether 5 Catalan politicians should be returned to Spain. Decision may come Friday.

Thurs –  Angela Merkel ends exploratory talks and begins formal negotiations to form coalition gov. By Christmas Germany should have a CDU, CSU, Green, and FDP government.

Fri -EU Heads of Government meeting in Sweden.

Sun –  Presidential/Parliamentary elections in Chile. President Michele Bachelet is retiring.

 

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