OTHER INTERESTED ONLOOKERS: THEIR WANTS AND WORRIES

Over the past twelve hours, all eyes have understandably been on Trump and Kim, but there are three other key players whose interests are at play. Here’s what each wants and worries about:


CHINA: More than anything, Beijing wants peace in the neighborhood as it seeks to increase its strategic and economic clout in Asia at Washington’s expense. Any diplomatic process that reduces the prospect of war or promises a reduction of US forces on the peninsula is a win that China will cautiously support. The biggest danger for Beijing — aside from a diplomatic collapse that puts peninsular war or regime change back on the agenda — is that the Kim-Trump relationship goes too well in a way that enables Pyongyang, an unwieldy but still valuable client state, to seek alternatives to Beijing’s patronage.

SOUTH KOREA: No one has hustled the diplomacy harder than South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Seoul, which lives under constant threat of North Korean bombardment, has the most to gain from a normalization of relations between North Korea and the United States. Reducing the security threat from the North and opening the way to economic opportunities above the 38th parallel would be huge wins for Moon, and most South Koreans are in favor of a formal peace treaty between the two nations. Moon’s got two big concerns: first, that in a bid to win Kim’s confidence, Trump cuts back the US security umbrella for South Korea too quickly for Seoul’s comfort (Trump’s concession on military drills, for example, caught the South Koreans by surprise); second, that he gets caught in the middle of an unconventional diplomatic process driven by two unpredictable leaders that ultimately falls apart.

JAPAN: Tokyo is the US’ closest ally in the region, though these days that doesn’t mean what it used to — just ask the Germans or the Canadians. Tokyo wants to see an agreement that cools tensions on the peninsula, and it has its own interests in securing the return of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea decades ago. But Japan doesn’t have a seat at the table here, and Tokyo worries that Trump may ultimately cut a deal that puts America First while leaving Japan out in the cold: say, by accepting a commitment from Kim to freeze testing of long-range missiles that can hit the US, but without scraping his short-range missiles and other chemical and biological weapons that could still threaten Japan. ​

Every day thousands of people legally cross back and forth between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on their way to jobs, schools, doctor's appointments, shopping centers and the homes of family and friends. This harmonious exchange has taken place for more than 400 years, uniting neighbors through shared social ties, geography, history and, most importantly, an interlinked economy.

Beyond the people and goods, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez also converge in a cross-border flow of ideas, ambition and aspirations that have shaped the region for centuries. This forward-looking spirit is what attracted Microsoft to the region in 2017, when it launched Microsoft TechSpark to create new economic opportunities and help digitally transform established industries with modern software and cloud services. It's also why Microsoft announced on Monday that it is expanding the TechSpark El Paso program to include Ciudad Juárez and making a $1.5 million investment in the binational Bridge Accelerator. Read more about the TechSpark announcement here.

Since Syria's brutal civil war began eight years ago, millions of Syrians have fled their country to escape the bombs and bullets. But hundreds of thousands have been displaced within Syria's borders, where they languish in packed refugee camps. The al-Hol camp in northern Syria is sprawling, and of its nearly 70,000 residents, some 11,000 are family members of foreign ISIS fighters, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The surprise American withdrawal from northern Syria last week paved the way for Turkey and Syria's Bashar al-Assad to move in. Some 160,000 civilians have now fled the border region that Turkey is bombarding, deepening a humanitarian crisis in a stretch of Syria that had been relatively secure since the defeat of ISIS's self-declared caliphate back in March. Here's a look at the camps for displaced people in the area.

Syria is quickly turning into US President Donald Trump's most significant foreign policy blunder to date. It's looking like it might be for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, too.

On Monday, the Trump administration announced a fresh wave of sanctions on Turkey, in a bid to get Erdogan to halt his invasion of Kurdish-controlled territory in Syria. Yes, you may recall, that's the same invasion that the US green-lit last week by withdrawing American troops from the area.

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Mozambique's democracy test Mozambicans voted yesterday in an election that will test a fragile peace accord between the ruling Frelimo party, led by president Filipe Nyusi, and Renamo, a former rebel group-turned-opposition party. The two factions were on opposite sides of a Cold War-tinged civil war that killed an estimated 1 million people between 1977 and 1992. Frelimo, which has ruled Mozambique since independence, has been losing popularity due to a corruption scandal, but is likely to hold onto power at the national level. Renamo, which foreswore violence just two months ago in exchange for electoral reforms that will help the party, will be hoping to make regional gains that allow it to win some key governorships. Disputes over the final vote count and even outright fraud or violence are possible in coming days, particularly if Renamo fails to make its hoped-for gains.

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What's the update at the Syria-Turkey border?

Well, it is increasingly in the hands of Assad and the Russians, who the Kurds have flipped with. The United States withdrawing some troops away from the border, the Turks coming in, but they going to be limited in how much they can do given the fact that ultimately, Assad and Russia has most the firepower and Turkey does not want that fight.

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