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Kim Hits the Rails

Kim Hits the Rails

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly paid an unexpected visit to Beijing, arriving by armored train (the Kim family’s ancestral ride) in the Chinese capital yesterday.


The trip, if confirmed, would be Mr. Kim’s first outside of North Korea since he took power in 2011, and would mark the first time China has granted the impetuous young leader a meeting with President Xi Jinping.

It’s unclear which side asked for the meeting, but clearly the prospect of a high-stakes summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump this spring — as well as Kim’s upcoming planned encounter with South Korean President Moon Jae-in — has set things in motion between Beijing and Pyongyang.

What might each side want out of this heavily-cloaked meeting?

President Xi will certainly wish to align with — and influence — Kim ahead of any direct talks between Pyongyang and the US. And by welcoming Kim on his first foreign trip, Xi is signaling to the White House that the route to any deal with the US must still go through Beijing. Xi will also presumably press Kim to find out whether the North Korean leader is sincerely considering scaling down his nuclear ambitions, or whether his recent overtures are a play for time to develop more nuclear capability.

Kim, for his part, presumably wishes to show he’s still got the backing of his powerful patrons in Beijing, even though China has regarded him more as a headache than as an asset in recent years. And he’ll want to know what China will seek to extract, and underwrite, as part of any rapprochement with Washington. China’s position is crucial to any negotiating strategy for Kim.

Again, Kim may not, in fact, be in Beijing — we will know more soon. But if he is, it would mark a potentially significant turning point in one of the most intractable global security challenges today.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

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Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

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