GREECE/MACEDONIA – Tens of thousands of Greeks rallied in Athens on Sunday to protest against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia using the name Macedonia. They rejected government plans to resolve the name issue. One of Greece’s northern provinces is called Macedonia.

RUSSIA/SYRIA – Russia claims it killed more than 30 militants in an air strike in retaliation after a Russian jet was brought down over Syria and the pilot killed in a gun battle last week. The Su-25 fighter was reportedly shot down with shoulder-fired weapons by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group which split from al Qaeda.

S KOREA/N KOREA – The ceremonial head of state of N Korea, Kim Yong Nam, will visit the South for a 3-day visit starting Friday during the Winter Olympics.

COMING UP

The week may be dominated by the run-up to the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea.  US Vice Pres Mike Pence will be at the opening ceremony but the real purpose of his visit is to use the Olympics to reassure the Japanese and South Koreans of America’s “unwavering support”. After the opening ceremony, he goes on to Seoul and then Tokyo. On the way home he visits Alaska, home of some of the USA’s anti-ballistic missile defence. North Korea intends to put on a massive military parade the day before the Olympic opening ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army.

DIARY

Mon –  Saleh Abdeslam, linked with the 2015 Paris terror attacks which left 130 people dead, is in court in Brussels over the shoot-out with police when he was allegedly on the run in  Brussels.

Mon – EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, and UK Brexit Sec David Davis meet in London.

Mon –  Turkey’s President Erdogan in the Vatican to see Pope Francis.

Tues – President Putin makes his annual address to parliament ahead of next month’s presidential election.

Thurs – South Africa’s President Zuma scheduled to give annual ‘state of the nation’ address to parliament. He may not last that long in office.

Thurs – North Korean military parade expected, timed to perfection ahead of the Winter Olympics.

Fri – Opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Sat –  World Government Summit in Dubai.

Fri – India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi to make the 1st visit by an Indian PM to the Palestinian territories.

Fri –   London court expected to rule on whether to drop the arrest warrant against Julian Assange.  The Swedish government has closed its investigation into rape charges. Mr. Assange is not expected to attend.

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