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TRUMP'S RISKY GAMBLE WITH THE NORTH

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Nuclear weapons are primarily defensive in nature and represent the ultimate insurance against foreign invasion. This must be the backdrop for the future of Trump-Kim meeting for which the expectations seem to have been hastily heightened and not the much-exaggerated “historic” meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas. No less “historic” meetings were already held twice before––in 2000 and 2007––and the 1992 Joint Declaration for the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula literally stated that “The South and the North shall not test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons.”
We are at the very beginning, not at the end, of a long road that may lead to nuclear-free peace with North Korea, but quite realistically may not. Even worse, with the exaggerated expectations now, the Trump Administration has actually increased the risk of a large-scale conflict.

Japan, China, and the Western Balkans

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Why Shinzo Abe Visited Serbia
On January 17, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wrapped up a five-day trip to northern and southeastern Europe. After visiting Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, he went to Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania. His trip to the Baltic and the Balkan regions fits within Tokyo’s decades-long attempts to establish itself as a global economic and political leader, and to increase its sphere of influence via the use of soft power and the employment of its financial prowess as a diplomatic lever. On his Balkan leg of the trip, a few points require attention. The least important one, but also perhaps the most entertaining, was Abe’s visit to Romania, which would have been a boring diplomatic success for both sides complete with even more boring press communiques — had the Romanian prime minister, Mihai Tudose, not resigned the night before Abe’s arrival, thus leaving his Japanese counterpart unattended. The embarrassment for the Japanese guests, and for the Romanian hosts,…