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Press review: Trump meets Kim on N. Korean soil and NATO, Russia brace for post-INF world

Top stories in the Russian press on Monday, July 1
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un AP Photo/Susan Walsh
US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
© AP Photo/Susan Walsh


Kommersant: Trump, Kim hold surprise summit on border between two Koreas

US President Donald Trump made history twice on Sunday: he became the first US president, who has visited North Korea, and he took part in the first trilateral US-North Korea-South Korea summit, although it lasted for just a couple of minutes. Apart from that, the third Trump-Kim meeting, far from having any historic outcomes, ended up only with the sides agreeing on setting up a working group to break the deadlock, Kommersant writes. Trump convened the US-North Korean summit within 24 hours, informing Kim about his wish to meet on Twitter.

The two leaders’ meeting in the demilitarized zone was as symbolic as the exchange of letters, Kommersant writes. "Donald Trump has shown that he can meet with Kim Jong-un just upon one call and he is not in a dire need for mediators, which Moon Jae-in and Xi Jinping hoped to become," expert of South Korea’s ASAN Institute for Policy Studies Go Myong-Hyn told the paper. "Maintaining personal relations with Donald Trump remains a major task for Kim Jong-un." These meetings can happen again, but this may negatively affect the reputation of the North Korean leader, who shows that the US president can freely take advantage of his time, the expert noted.

Speaking about the lack of progress on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, experts interviewed by Kommersant said that over the past 18 months, North Korea has strengthened its ties with China, and this opened up new opportunities for Pyongyang. On June 20, Chinese President Xi Jinping paid the first state visit to North Korea, vowing support for his neighbor. "Thanks to this step, North Korea and China are enhancing their negotiating positions with the US," Andrey Lankov, an expert at Seoul's Kookmin University, said. Beijing has shown that trade war needs to be brought to an end, otherwise no pressure on North Korea will work. Pyongyang is demonstrating that it is not cornered and is not rushing to meet all of Washington’s disarmament demands.


Izvestia: Russia, NATO may sign ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ to halt further escalation

This week, the NATO-Russia Council’s meeting is due to be convened. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Izvestia that the talks would be held with ambassadors from Russia and the alliance’s member-states. The Russian mission has confirmed that the talks would take place on July 5. The situation around the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which will finally cease to exist on August 2, will be in the spotlight at the meeting. According to experts interviewed by the paper in Moscow, the upcoming talks won’t reverse the course. However, Russia believes that this is not a reason to roll back dialogue.

Stoltenberg is hoping for a candid discussion with Russia on the INF Treaty. However, at his briefings he said that the alliance was preparing for a world without the INF, hinting that the entire discussion would be reduced to just declaring each others’ positions.

According to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko, basically, the sides would not talk about the implementation of the treaty, but would rather focus on the future of international security after its collapse. On June 26, Russia’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, endorsed a bill on suspending Russia’s participation in the INF. Under the document, it’s up to the president to decide on resuming the arms control deal's implementation. Meanwhile, Russia is not planning to scrap dialogue with NATO, while the alliance is not seeking to stop contacts with Moscow. "We have approved the respective bill, and that’s why I don’t think that Russia’s position will be changed," Senator Vladimir Dzhabarov told the paper. However, Russia and NATO could sign "a gentleman’s agreement, preventing further escalation," he noted. "Perhaps, we will manage to draw up a new multilateral agreement on short-and intermediate-range missiles and other types of armaments," the senator said, noting that amid the lack of an official treaty the parties would have to watch closely how the commitments on the non-deployment of missiles are honored.


Nezavisimaya Gazeta: G20 summit proves effective

The G20 summit in Japan’s Osaka has shown that a compromise on many challenging global political issues is within reach. Besides the key points of the final statement adopted by its members, and bilateral meetings confirming the importance of this negotiating platform were crucial. To a great extent, US President Donald Trump set the tone and his enthusiastic contacts were more proof that the 2020 US presidential race is heating up. It is not ruled out that the next six months will see promising global deals with "fantastic results," Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes.

The G20 leaders’ communique is mostly important due to the trends, which will dominate global politics in the coming months, the paper says. The document is devoted to the World Trade Organization’s reform, climate change, combating terrorism over the Internet, as well as digitalization and artificial intelligence. The economic part is especially interesting because the G20 leaders have agreed to reject refugee asylum requests to those who fled their countries on corruption charges. It took Japan a great deal of effort to bring global leaders’ positions closer, but the sides failed to solve some differences and the final document said that. Different climate views almost turned into a key threat for adopting the communique. Finally, the positions of the US and other participants were written down in different provisions.

At the G20, "trade enemies", US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed on delaying the introduction of new tariffs, the paper says. Washington pledged to soften sanctions against Chinese tech giant Huawei. This looks like a concession, but in the long-term perspective, this may undermine China’s position as a global manufacturer. For Beijing, the Osaka meeting has brought short-term success, but it has not rolled back the Trump-imposed trade barriers.

One of outcomes of Trump’s talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin is that he may become a guest at the coming festivities marking the 75th anniversary of the World War II victory. The meeting of the two leaders on the sidelines of the summit was held in a friendly atmosphere and Trump said he saw fantastic trade potential with Russia.

Commenting on the summit, Dmitry Trenin, Director of the Moscow Carnegie Center, said the G20 has been divided into a series of bilateral meetings and that’s why it is difficult to really call it the Group of Twenty. "In fact, the entire focus was made on Trump’s talks, first and foremost, with Xi and other leaders, including Putin. I believe that Trump, who is not very interested in a multilateral format, takes advantage of these meetings first for the PR and second, for promoting his long-term goals. His aim is to get concessions from China. He also has a goal to mend ties with Russia, and he sees no fundamental problems here. Trump is persistently pursuing his goal. And his other task, which he is also fulfilling, is to achieve a deal with North Korea, which not one of his predecessors had ever reached," he pointed out.


Vedomosti: Moscow, Saudis agree on extending OPEC+ deal

Russian President Vladimir Putin said after the June 29 meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman that the sides had agreed on extending the so-called OPEC+ deal. Russia, OPEC and some other non-cartel nations decided to limit oil production late in 2016. Last year, they slightly increased oil output and another extension of the deal means keeping production at the current level, Vedomosti writes.

The terms, under which OPEC countries will have to cut output by 800,000 barrels per day compared with October 2018, with Russia’s share of 230,000 barrels a day, won’t be changed. The only intrigue is the timeframe of the extended agreements, the paper says. According to Putin, this may be six or nine months. The current oil output cut deal expires on July 1. The official meeting of OPEC+ energy ministers will be held in Vienna on July 1-2. The parties will decide there whether the deal will be in force until January or April 2020.

The decision to extend the deal after June will support the oil market, and so far, it has enabled Russia to boost budget revenues by 7 trillion rubles ($111.2 bln), Director General of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Kirill Dmitriev told the paper. "Strategic partnership in the OPEC+ framework has stabilized oil markets and it allows cutting and boosting production depending on market conditions, and this contributes to predictability," he explained.

Meanwhile, extending the deal under the current conditions may result in a strong surplus, especially given the global economic slowdown, Corporations Department Director at Fitch Dmitry Marinchenko noted. Six or nine months will be a reasonable timeframe given that the situation will change rapidly, he predicted.


Izvestia: G20 summit maps show Kuril Islands as Japanese territory

In an official video at the G20 summit in Osaka, the Southern Kuril Islands were depicted as Japan’s territory. This lapse could be attributed to the fact that Japan hosted the summit for the first time. However, this map was also shown at all Osaka summit’s platforms, on its website and on the Japanese prime minister’s YouTube channel and Facebook page. Izvestia writes citing a Russian diplomatic source saying that Japan has always depicted the Southern Kuril Islands as its territory on all maps because "this is in line with its laws." The Russian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly voiced its discontent over that detail but to no avail and now, its position is reduced to this: "Japan can draw whatever it wants, but the islands are ours."

Depicting the South Kuril Islands as Japan’s territory on maps at the G20 summit was a rather "clumsy gesture," Chairman of the Russian Federation Council’s (upper house) Foreign Affairs Committee, Senator Konstantin Kosachev told the paper. "As for the organizers, I believe it is very wrong to bring internal disputes between Russia and Japan to such an international event as the G20. It’s like ‘washing one’s dirty linen in public,’" the senator said. "I haven’t seen this video clip yet, but we need to look at it before voicing a note of protest to the official Tokyo."

Japan is not alone in confusing its desire for reality on its maps, Chairman of the Federation Council’s Interim Commission for Information Policy Alexei Pushkov said, noting that Kiev is still showing Crimea as Ukrainian territory on its maps. Russia should not shut its eyes to this, but it’s senseless to turn this into a mountain out of a molehill, he said.


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