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Politics this week

Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s dictator, held a summit in Singapore. Mr Kim promised “complete denuclearisation” in exchange for American security guarantees. Mr Trump called it “a very great moment in the history of the world”. Critics noted that North Korea has always broken such promises in the past. See article.

South Korea’s ruling party won provincial and municipal elections by a landslide, capturing 14 of 17 governorships. It marked the first time that liberal candidates had ever won in several south-eastern provinces. The popularity of Moon Jae-in, the president, has been buoyed by the recent detente with North Korea.

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Hundreds of people stormed government offices in Vietnam to protest against a draft law that would let foreigners hold leases of up to 99 years on property. They fear that Chinese investors will buy lots of land. The law’s adoption has been delayed.

Taiwan’s president attended the opening of a new building for the American Institute in Taiwan, America’s unofficial embassy in the country. China, which bristles at anything that even hints at diplomatic recognition of Taiwan, had warned America not to send a senior official. America dispatched a lowly undersecretary of state.

A court in Hong Kong sentenced a prominent activist, Edward Leung, to six years in prison for his role in a riot in 2016 triggered by officials’ efforts to remove street stalls selling traditional snacks. Mr Leung had angered the Chinese government by supporting independence for Hong Kong. See article.

Lorry drivers staged strikes in several Chinese cities. They were protesting against fuel costs and competition from app-based haulage services.

Reversal of fortune

With a tiny majority in Parliament and faced with a rebellion from a handful of Tory MPs opposed to Brexit, the British government promised MPs what Remainers hope will be a “meaningful” vote on whether to approve whatever deal emerges from talks with the EU. This week’s machinations make it more likely that the United Kingdom will end up with a “soft” Brexit. See article.

The governments of Macedonia and Greece agreed on a new name for the former, which is seated at the UN as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The country’s new name, Northern Macedonia, is designed to appease Greek sensitivities about cultural appropriation. See article.

The Aquarius, a rescue vessel carrying more than 600 migrants from north Africa, was refused access to Italian ports by Matteo Salvini, Italy’s new nationalist interior minister. After two days of impasse, Spain, under its new Socialist government, stepped forward to offer the ship a berth in Valencia. Italy did accept migrants on an Italian-flagged ship. See article.

Austria’s chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, proposed the creation of what he called an “axis of willing” among Germany, Italy and Austria to curb illegal migration. Critics wondered whether the word “axis” had quite the right historical ring to it.

Scales of justice

Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former Congolese warlord, had his conviction for crimes against humanity overturned on appeal. He still awaits sentence on a separate charge of bribing witnesses, but the International Criminal Court ordered his release. His supporters want him to return to the Democratic Republic of Congo and run for president. See article.

An American soldier was killed and four wounded in Somalia after they were attacked by al-Shabab, a jihadist group. America is mulling whether to scale back its military operations in Africa.

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates attacked Hodeida, the main entry port for aid in Yemen, in a bid to wrest it from the Houthis, a group of Shia rebels who chased the government out of Sana’a, the capital, in 2015. The UN had warned that fighting over the port could disrupt the supply of food to Yemeni cities, putting millions at risk of hunger. See article.

A fire destroyed part of a depot in Iraq where ballot papers were being stored after a disputed election in May. Iraq’s parliament had ordered a recount of the ballots amid allegations of vote-rigging. See article.

Use it or lose it

America’s Supreme Court sided with Ohio, which had removed the name of a man who did not vote regularly from the electoral register. Federal law forbids the automatic removal of lax voters from the rolls, but states have a duty to keep their information up to date. The court found that a notice of intent to remove the man from the register did not violate the rules. See article.

Mark Sanford, a Republican congressman from South Carolina who has often criticised Donald Trump, was defeated in a primary election. Mr Sanford previously made headlines in 2009 when, as governor, he disappeared for a week. It turned out he was having an affair. The official explanation for his absence, that he was “hiking the Appalachians”, became a popular euphemism for infidelity.

The non-believer

The G7 summit in Canada was the most rancorous in the club’s history. America clashed with its allies over climate change and trade. Donald Trump refused to sign the final communiqué, accusing Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, of making “false statements”. “There’s a special place in hell” for those who act in bad faith, said Mr Trump’s trade adviser, Peter Navarro. See article.

America extradited Ricardo Martinelli, a former president of Panama, to his home country to face trial on charges of corruption and wiretapping. He is accused of using public money to spy on 150 rivals.

Pope Francis accepted the resignation of three Chilean bishops. They include Juan Barros, who was accused of covering up sexual abuse of children by a priest.

On the eve of the 2018 World Cup, the 2026 tournament was awarded jointly to the United States, Canada and Mexico. The members of FIFA, football’s governing body, ignored recent tensions among the three countries in choosing their joint bid over Morocco’s. Mr Trump will no longer be president by the time the tournament is played. It is also possible that the North American Free-Trade Agreement will have been dissolved by then.