USA/GULF – President Trump is expected to meet senior leaders from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar in separate bilateral meetings in Washington in March and April according to media reports from the Gulf. The agenda will include setting up a Gulf Cooperation Council summit to try to resolve the bitter dispute between Qatar and its neighbours.

COMING UP

The Italian elections are scheduled for Sunday with immigration and the economy topping voters’ concerns. Italy’s political system usually ensures a coalition government. Current polling puts the Five Star Movement top with 29% support but as ‘outsiders’ they may not want to go into a coalition and the traditional parties may not want them anyway. Former PM Silvio Berlusconi heads an alliance of the La Forza, Northern League, and Brothers of Italy parties who may together poll around 37%.

The Christian Democratic Union party congress in Berlin is supposed to result in a new secretary general. Ms Merkel wants it to be her close ally Annegret Kram-Karrenbauer. If it isn’t, Ms Merkel’s grip on power will be even weaker.

DIARY

Mon – Finland’s first terrorism-related trial begins. 22-year-old Abderrahman Bouznane accused of killing 2 people and injuring 9 others in a knife attack last August.  –
and injured nine in a knife attack last August.

Mon –  Angela Merkel’s CDU holds party congress in Berlin.

Tues – EU Foreign Ministers meet in Brussels to discuss ‘progress’ in Brexit talks. The deadline for progress is March 22nd.

Thurs – World Compliments Day.

Thurs – Launch of increased EU military structure ‘PESCO’ at The Hague. (PESCO – Permanent Structured Cooperation)

Fri –  Dutch PM Mark Rutte delivers a speech on future of EU in Berlin.

Fri – Funeral of US evangelist Billy Graham in North Carolina.

Sat –  German Kurds expected to demonstrate in Berlin against the Turkish invasion of Kurd dominated northern Syria. There are 5 million people of Turkish origin in Germany.

Sun –  Oscars.

Sun –  Result of vote by Germany’s SDP on whether to go into coalition government with the CDU/CSU.

Sun –  El Salvador general election.

Sun – Italian elections.

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