🌍 Biden hosts the leaders of South Korea and Japan

Plus: Nicaragua targets its last independent institution

Hi there Intriguer. Just ‘cause we’re taking a break next week doesn’t mean the world gets any less intriguing. Here’s what we’ll be watching (from our sunbeds): the upcoming BRICS summit, the Zimbabwean general election, the Guatemalan runoff elections, and…

Of course, we’ll update you on everything once we’re back in your inboxes from Monday 28 August.

Today’s briefing is a 5 min read:

  • 🇯🇵🇰🇷 An historic Japan-South Korea summit at Camp David?

  • 🇳🇮 Why Nicaragua is targeting its Catholic Church.

  • Plus: A big resignation, how the papers are covering tensions in the Black Sea, and the world’s shortest land border.

P.S - Huuuuuge congrats (and thanks) to Benedek at CEU Vienna, our first Campus Growth Ambassador to smash their referral milestone!

⏱️ Around the world in sixty seconds

  1. 🇹🇲 Turkmenistan: Authorities have announced they’re looking into the possibility of developing a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline to transport Turkmen gas to Europe, bypassing both Russia and Iran. Currently, most of Turkmenistan’s gas exports head to China.

  2. 🇩🇪 Germany: The US has approved the sale of the Israeli-US joint venture Arrow-3 missile defence system to Germany. The $3.5B deal is the biggest defence deal in Israel’s history.

  3. 🇮🇳 India: Indian and Chinese military commanders pledged to “maintain the peace and tranquillity” along their shared border ahead of Xi-Modi talks at next week’s BRICS summit in South Africa. Deadly border clashes erupted between the two neighbours in 2020.

  4. 🇨🇴 Colombia: President Gustavo Petro has announced his country has started to renegotiate its free trade agreement (FTA) with the US. According to Petro, the FTA has harmed Colombia’s output and job creation.

  5. 🇿🇼 Zimbabwe: Eligible Zimbabweans are getting ready to vote for a new parliament and president on 23 August. Polling so far has predicted different results between incumbent leader Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.

🇯🇵🇰🇷 Japan & South Korea | Camp David Summit

South Korean President Yoon, US President Biden, and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida met during a NATO summit in Madrid last year. Credit: Reuters

The US, Japan and South Korea break bread

US President Joe Biden will welcome Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol to the storied Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains today (Friday).

Relations between the two US allies have been fraught for over a century, with Japan occupying Korea from 1910 to 1945. And their recent disputes have thwarted US efforts to foster unity in an increasingly volatile region.

But Yoon and Kishida, who took office months apart, have shown a willingness to try again. And that's where Camp David comes in: using its gravitas to put a floor under Japan-Korea ties and try to rebuild from there.

So today, the three leaders will announce initiatives to deepen their defence, tech and economic cooperation (plus probably make the summit an annual affair).

But it all feels more like a new beginning than a culmination.

Intrigue's take: We focus on geopolitics more than politics, but this is one of those reminders of how much each shapes the other.

Japanese and Korean leaders often pay a political price at home for reaching out too far abroad. But evidently, Yoon and Kishida feel they now have enough political cover to keep going. This cover comes partly:

  • 🇯🇵🇰🇷 From each other, through reciprocal visits this year

  • 🇺🇸 From the US, through state visits and today’s Camp David summit, but also (and unwittingly)

  • 🇨🇳🇷🇺🇰🇵 From China, Russia and North Korea, which have each now spooked Korean and Japanese voters alike.

Of course, future elections could unwind whatever’s announced today. But the gravitas of a Camp David summit imposes a political cost on doing so.

Diplomacy is at its most effective when it finds a way to align the politics and the geopolitics. And that's what’s being attempted at Camp David today.

Also worth noting:

  • South Korean intel suggests North Korea will register its opposition to today’s summit via a missile test in coming days. For its part, China said it opposes “countries forming various cliques”.

  • Former US President Obama brokered a meeting between then Japanese PM Abe and Korean President Park in Washington in 2016.

📰 How newspapers covered…

Tensions in the Black Sea

New York, US

“U.S. in Talks to Develop Ukraine Grain Export Routes”

Sydney, Australia

“Russia fires warning shots on cargo ship in Black Sea for first time since collapse of UN-brokered grain deal”

Istanbul, Turkey

“Ukraine tries out new Black Sea route as Russia pounds grain depots”

🎧 Today on Intrigue Outloud

What else happened in the world this week? Tune in to hear from host Ethan Plotkin and Intrigue co-founder John Fowler.

🇳🇮 Nicaragua | Politics

Students at Central American University helped lead anti-Ortega protests in 2018

Nicaragua dismantles a prominent university

A Nicaraguan court declared the Jesuit-run Central American University a “centre of terrorism” on Wednesday (16 August), ordering the government to seize its assets.

Since widespread anti-government protests broke out in 2018, the administration of Nicaragua’s long-running leader Daniel Ortega has:

The Catholic Church had survived as one of Nicaragua’s few remaining independent (and vocal) institutions. But in the past year, authorities have:

  • 📻 Shut down at least half a dozen Catholic radio stations

  • ⛪ Sentenced a prominent Church leader to 26 years in prison, and now

  • 🎓 Closed a leading Catholic university.

Intrigue’s take: Nicaragua is a predominantly Catholic nation, and polls suggest the Church remains the country’s most trusted institution.

But Mr. Ortega, a former guerrilla, has now shown himself willing to take down any institution, no matter how influential, that stands in his way.

Also worth noting:

  • At least three of Ortega’s children reportedly attended Central American University.

  • The cathedral in Managua sheltered student demonstrators during the 2018 unrest.

  • US border agents encountered 165,000 Nicaraguans in FY2022 compared to 50,000 in FY2021.

  • Ortega switched his country’s recognition from Taiwan to China in 2021.

Extra Intrigue

We’re back with our Team Intrigue recommendations! If you have:

🗳️ Quiz time!

Let’s test your knowledge on borders!

1) What is the longest land border in the world?

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2) Which land border reaches the highest altitude?

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3) Where is the world’s shortest land border?

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📜 On this day in history

A local watches on as Pakistani President Musharraf resigns. Credits: Bloomberg

Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf resigned on this day in 2008. A military officer, he took power in a 1999 coup and survived a number of assassination attempts over the years. After his party performed poorly in 2008 elections, and facing impeachment, he announced his resignation at 1pm via televised address. He died in exile in Dubai earlier this year.

Thursday’s poll: Should governments shut down their golden passport/visa schemes?

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🙅 Yes, they're too risky (60%)

🟨🟨🟨⬜️⬜️⬜️ 🤑 No, governments and economies need the cash (36%)

⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️⬜️ ✍️ Other (write in!) (4%)

Your two cents:

  • 🙅 G: “Individual countries should not be allowed benefit at EU expense.”

  • ✍️ R.L: “They should be tightened considerably. Where does the money go? Can it really be said to have been invested in the welfare of the country's future? Does the investor ever stay in the country? Do they have any vested interest in the country's prosperity?”

Quiz answers: 1-a, 2-c, 3-a

Join the conversation

or to participate.