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Macron-Modi

Macron in India

19 March 2018

Against the backdrop of a packed domestic reform agenda, French President Emmanuel Macron paid a State visit to India on 9-12 March 2018. The visit boosted the 20-year-old strategic partnership, as the leaders signed 14 agreements in very diverse areas. Highlights of the visit included a major step forward on cooperation on solar power and nuclear energy, a key maritime security agreement and closer defence cooperation, amidst shared concerns over China’s growing assertiveness in the Indian Ocean.

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Trump Kim

Trump to meet 'Rocket Man'

13 March 2018

Trump agrees to meet “Rocket Man’

Developments on the Korean peninsula are suddenly moving at breakneck speed. Following the Olympic detente, President Kim Jong-Un hosted a dinner for a high-ranking South Korean delegation in Pyongyang on 5 March. He told his startled guests that North Korea was committed to denuclearisation and, for as long as dialogue continued, the North would refrain from further missile or nuclear tests. But the most surprising bombshell was that Kim also said he was eager to meet with the President Trump as soon as possible. The South Korea delegation rushed to Washington to inform Trump who, without consulting anyone, immediately accepted the invitation.

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olympic thaw

Will the Olympic Thaw Hold?

28 February 2018

On 25 February the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang ended with a spectacular closing ceremony – K-Pop, fireworks, a lightshow involving 300 Intel Shooting Star drones. And yet it was, again, North Korea, who put on the real show, stating they were ready for direct talks with the US. 

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Korean olympic detente

The Korean Olympic Détente - Sport, Diplomacy and the Army of Beauties

8 February 2018

On 9 February the Winter Olympic Games will commence in Pyeongchang, just 80 km from the demilitarized zone that divides Korea. But to the surprise of many, South and North Korea will march together at the opening ceremony under a Unification Flag – a pale blue shape of the Korean peninsula against a white background, designed to represent all of Korea. It won’t be the first time this happens; North Korea has quite a history at the Olympics which it boycotted only twice – the 1984 Games in Los Angeles and the 1988 Games in Seoul. But there will be a number of “firsts” at this year’s games.

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Xi-May

Theresa May in China

4 February 2018

Even if the results were meagre, a beleaguered Theresa May probably welcomed the opportunity to escape the febrile Westminster atmosphere for a three day visit to China this week. The British prime minister heads a minority government and continues to be haunted by a possible leadership challenge as well as constant Cabinet in-fighting over a hard v soft Brexit.

Her principal aims in China were to try and convince Chinese leaders that she would be in power for some time and that post-Brexit, there would be a new ‘golden age’ of UK-China relations. President Xi and Prime Minister Li said that there could be close relations whatever the UK’s future status.

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Macron and Xi

“Makelong” visits China

19 January 2018

During his 8-10 January visit to China, the first by an EU leader since the 19th CCP Party Congress, President Macron ( 马克龙 “Makelong” in Chinese) made a strong plea for closer EU-China cooperation based on reciprocity.

Macron’s visit started in Xi’An, the departure point of the ancient Silk Road, and thus a highly symbolic choice to endorse Xi Jin Ping’s flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Whole welcoming Xi’s initiative, Macron warned that cooperation should not be “one-way”. Reciprocity and better access to the Chinese market were thus catchwords of Macron’s visit, as he seeks to reduce France’s trade deficit with China. 

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EU Olive Branch to Thailand

EU Olive Branch for Thailand

11 December 2017

On 11 December, the EU Foreign Affairs Council agreed on a gradual political re-engagement with Thailand. Recalling the importance the EU attaches to its relations with Thailand, and the constructive role which Thailand plays as the current country coordinator for EU-ASEAN relations, the Council called for the urgent restoration of the democratic process in Thailand through credible and inclusive elections and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

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Tusk in manila

Tusk and Trump in Asia

18 November 2017

While most attention has been on President Trump’s visit to Asia, it is important to recognize the significance of President Tusk’s visit to Manila where he attended an ASEAN-EU Summit marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of ASEAN-EU relations, and also, for the first time, attended the East Asia Summit (EAS).

At the EU-ASEAN meeting, leaders endorsed the recent Action Plan (2018-22) between the two blocks and agreed to accelerate moves towards a Strategic Partnership. Tusk also reiterated the EU's support to the EU-ASEAN integration process and called for strengthened EU-ASEAN cooperation on security and global challenges. Both sides emphasised the importance of working together to reinforce the rules-based international system and multilateralism.

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AEAN at 50

ASEAN at 50: Muted Celebrations

15 November 2017

A region which can stand on its own feet, strong enough to defend itself from any negative influence from outside the region.” This is how Indonesian Foreign Minister Adam Malik envisioned ASEAN at the organisation’s inaugural conference on 8 August 1967. Faced with the threat of communism, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand agreed to establish the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote regional peace and prosperity. Later, five other countries Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam joined the project. Over time, the ASEAN has equipped itself with stronger institutional mechanisms to broaden cooperation in an ever-growing array of fields. This has been helpful in promoting peace and stability and fostering trust in the region, despite huge economic differences and recurring tensions between the members. ASEAN is struggling to deal with the rise of China and currently faces a major challenge in its response to the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.

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2

First Europe v Asia Golf Match

23 October 2017

The EU team won a narrow victory over the Asian team by 301-293 points on 22 October at La Tournette golf club.

The photo above shows Ambassador Rodney Pereira of Sri Lanka handing over the trophy to Jim Moran, the EU captain and former Director for Asia in the EEAS.

The format was four ball, better ball, stableford, and all the matches were very close. 

The Asian team included ambassadors and senior diplomats from Samoa, Myanmar, Malaysia,  Vietnam, Indonesia and Korea.

The European team included players from Belgium, Ireland, Denmark, Spain and the UK.

It is planned to repeat the match in 2018.

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