Global Political Calendar: China-U.S. trade talks resume
By John Goodrich
China-U.S. trade negotiations restart in Beijing, Washington's engagement overseas is in the spotlight as top officials visit 10 Middle Eastern countries, and there is uncertainty in the wake of elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
China and U.S. talk trade
China and the U.S. will hold vice-ministerial-level talks on trade on Monday and Tuesday in Beijing, as the clock ticks down to a March 1 deadline to implement the consensus agreed by President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina.
The fresh discussions won't involve the lead negotiators, but follow a positive Xi-Trump phone conversation in late December and could set the agenda for higher-level talks in the near future.
The meeting comes amid economic warning signs across the world, from unstable markets to rising debt levels.
The World Bank will give its judgement on the impact of increased tariffs on the global economy when it publishes updated economic forecasts on Tuesday.
U.S. role in the Middle East
2019 is likely to be another year of change in U.S. foreign policy, and the week ahead should provide some clarity to Washington's strategy as top officials head to the Middle East.
Trump in December announced the U.S. would withdraw its 2,000 troops from Syria – although after an outcry from regional allies and Republicans that process appears to have slowed – and speculation is high over a drawdown in Afghanistan.
National Security Adviser John Bolton travels to Israel and Turkey this week, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo begins an eight-nation tour of the Middle East. He will visit Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait, and a stopover in Iraq is also likely.
The war in Yemen, Iran, relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and the Khashoggi killing are all likely to be on the agenda but with Trump saying the U.S. will not be a "global policeman," analysts will be looking for evidence of a long-term U.S. strategy in the region.
Tensions have been high in the DRC since the poll on December 30 to choose a successor to President Joseph Kabila, which had been delayed three times.
Fears are growing that the postponement in publishing results could lead to unrest similar to that seen after elections in 2006 and 2011. The UN Security Council is due to discuss the DRC situation on Tuesday.
Monday: China and the U.S. begin two days of vice-ministerial-level trade negotiations in Beijing, and U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton visits Turkey and Israel.
Tuesday: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo begins an eight-day, eight-nation tour of the Middle East, the Malaysian and Singaporean foreign ministers hold talks amid a row over airspace, the UN Security Council discusses the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the World Bank releases its global economic forecasts.
Wednesday: The Brexit debate restarts in the UK parliament, and Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz visits his Syrian counterpart Bashar Al-Assad.
Thursday:Nicolas Maduro is sworn in for a second term as Venezuela's president, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is in Bucharest to launch the Romanian rotating EU presidency, and the U.S. public comment period on emerging technology export controls ends.
Friday: Germany's far-right AfD party chooses candidates ahead of the European parliamentary elections.
Saturday: Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono begins a five-day visit to Moscow, which is expected to include negotiations on a peace treaty based on the Joint Declaration of 1956.
Unspecified: The Republic of Macedonia votes on changing its name to the Republic of North Macedonia, the UN envoy for Yemen aims to cement a truce in the country, and negotiations to end the U.S. government shutdown continue.