North Korea was caught again. The Washington Post reported on July 30 that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is still constructing long-range missiles capable of reaching the US homeland. This may not be a technical violation of Pyongyang’s agreements with the United States, but it is significant.

North Korea has been riding high since the Singapore summit; Kim Jong Un is the first North Korean leader to hold court with a sitting US president. Kim had to put less on the table than all past frameworks. He then scored a series of meetings with Chinese leader Xi Jingping and received Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Pyongyang. 

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out a new vision for American economic engagement in the Indo-Pacific on July 30, announcing the rollout of a new US regional infrastructure initiative, which, while not explicitly targeting China’s growing economic power in the region, will attempt to provide Indo-Pacific countries with an American financial alternative to Beijing.  

In his opening remarks, made at the US Chamber of Commerce’s Indo-Pacific Business Forum, Pompeo announced new Department of State infrastructure and connectivity projects worth $113 million in the Indo-Pacific region. These programs, intended to promote development in the digital economy, energy, and traditional infrastructure sectors, “seek to capitalize on economic opportunity with the spirit of freedom and openness,” with partners who share “democratic values.”

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US intelligence officials believe that North Korea is continuing to build new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), despite North Korean leader Kim Jung Un’s promise to work towards denuclearization after a summit with US President Donald J. Trump in June.

The intelligence findings, which were reported by The Washington Post on July 30, raise questions about Pyongyang’s commitment to improve its relations with the United States and seriously move to halt or roll back its nuclear weapons program.

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The Trump administration has turned its attention squarely toward the Indo-Pacific, with one eye firmly on an increasingly assertive China.

In a significant policy speech in Washington on July 30, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States seeks “partnership, not domination,” in the Indo-Pacific. In a thinly veiled reference to China, Pompeo added: “We… have never and will never seek domination in the Indo-Pacific, and we will oppose any country that does.”  

What exactly does the Trump administration’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy set out and how can this goal be achieved in an America First era? Robert A. Manning, a resident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, discussed the strategy in an interview with the New Atlanticist’s Ashish Kumar Sen. Here are excerpts from our interview.

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Eight days ago, US President Donald J. Trump warned Hassan Rouhani of dire “consequences” should the Iranian president persist with his threats against the United States.

On July 30, Trump said he would be willing to meet with the Iranian leader at any time “with no preconditions.”

“If they [the Iranians] want to meet, we’ll meet,” Trump said at a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at the White House in Washington.

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Albanian Foreign Minister Ditmir Bushati says US engagement in the Balkans is critical to ensure that there will be no derailment of the effort by Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to normalize relations that would pave the way for the latter to join NATO.

“Now that both countries [Greece and Macedonia] are doing the last mile [toward normalization], the United States’ focus on this issue is incredibly important. Especially given the fact that there are third actors who do not support the deal that has been reached between Athens and Skopje,” Bushati said in an interview with Atlantic Council Executive Vice President Damon Wilson.

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Most encouraging about President Trump’s trade deal with the European Union this week wasn’t the escalating conflict it defused but rather the historic possibility it opened. 

While President Trump had been applying new aluminum and steel tariffs to allies, triggering retaliatory measures against everything from US agricultural products to Harley Davidson motorcycles, China had been rapidly advancing what its leader Xi Jinping immodestly has called “the project of the century.”

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US President Donald J. Trump may not find the ally he expects when he meets with the new Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, in Washington on July 30.

The two appear to have gotten along at the recent Group of Seven (G7) and NATO summits. At the former, Conte agreed with Trump that Russia should be invited back into the club of top industrial nations. His political masters in Rome—Conte is a figurehead, real power lies with the party leaders, Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini—have gone so far as to argue that Western sanctions on Russia, imposed after it seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, must be lifted.

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EU officials temper exuberant expectations of transatlantic truce

“European Union representatives told me that they would start buying soybeans from our great farmers immediately. Also, they will be buying vast amounts of LNG!”

That's what US President Donald J. Trump tweeted after his meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the White House on July 25, which both leaders praised as a successful de-escalation of tensions that were threatening to turn from a trade skirmish into an all-out war. Trump imposed tariffs of 25 percent on European steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum June 1 and has repeatedly threatened to hike taxes on European cars, which would have been disastrous for Germany.

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The apparent victory of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in the July 25 parliamentary election marks a new inflection point in Pakistan’s politics and external policies.  This election, though marred by allegations of tampering and violence, marks Pakistan’s second consecutive transition from one civilian-led government to another through an election.  Additionally, PTI’s ascent is a break from the dominance of Pakistan’s two, dynastically controlled, political parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).  As negotiations to form a government under PTI leadership take place over the coming weeks, observers should watch a few factors for signs of what is to come.

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