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Tom Parkin's Foreign Affairs Newsletter - Issue #2

Tom Parkin
Tom Parkin
Thanks for subscribing to my foreign affairs newsletter. Here, I’ll share some of this week’s developments in foreign affairs and diplomacy, as well as links to some of the best free online resources… If you like what you read, please share with friends and family.
The Headlines
Potential End to the Korean War
On Monday, North Korea, South Korea, the United States and China agreed in principle to declare and end to the Korean War. Although a truce was announced in 1953, the two countries have operated under a state of war for over seventy years.
The push comes from South Korean President, Moon Jae-in. Moon leaves office in under three months and promised voters in 2017 that his administration’s central mission was to bring peace to the peninsula. In June 2018, President Trump became the first serving American Commander-in-chief to meet a North Korean leader. Twelve months later, President Trump visited the North Korean territory. The new Biden Administration will also hope to capitalise on this progress in a bid to move on from the widely criticised American withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The greatest diplomatic tension exists between North Korea and the United States. The US currently has over 20,000 troops on duty in the South – the lowest number on active duty since 1950. The presence is known collectively as USFK. The leadership in Pyongyang perceives the USFK as an aggressor in the region, despite assurances from the White House that its behaviour is strictly defence-orientated.
Planned Libyan Christmas Eve Presidential Election Close to Collapse
With less than two weeks to go, Libyans are set to vote in the country’s first democratic presidential election after ten years of transitional rule. This is a major test for the international community as the oil-rich nation seeks to re-establish lasting government since the NATO-backed removal of the dictator Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011. The initial plan, first agreed in January, is under pressure from multiple domestic actors. This includes the Libyan High National Election Commission.
Over the course of the year, the commission have sought to ban a number of high-profile candidates from appearing on the ballot. One example includes Said al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the recent dictator. Meanwhile, interim prime minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah and army chief Khalifa Haftar have been approved.
In addition, the United Nations has become politically paralysed thanks to its own internal problems. Last month, the UN Special Envoy to Libya, Jan Kubis, quit without making a public statement. Since then, the UN Secretary-General has failed to appoint a full replacement thanks to Russia’s veto. However, American diplomat Stephanie Turco Williams has taken effectively taken over in the role of special advisor. There are concerns that under current tensions, any poll could result in a new civil war and should be delayed. But after over a decade of interim government, many in the international community fear this could result in a loss of appetite for a democratic model of governance. This is not a good sign, especially after last week’s “Summit for Democracy”. Talks continue.
Make sure to check out the Twitter account of the week below!
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Many thanks,
Tom Parkin
Tom Parkin is a writer, podcaster, former political candidate and commentator. His research interests include diplomatic security and digital diplomacy. He has a degree in International Relations and Politics from the University of Sheffield and is currently studying International Public and Political Communication MA at Sheffield University’s Department of Journalism Studies. Connect with Tom here.
Twitter Account of the Week
This week’s Twitter account is @diplocourier. Diplomatic Courier works to ‘connect the public to leaders’. @diplocourier hosts a regular podcast and welcomes written contributions from the public.

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Tom Parkin
Tom Parkin @tompjparkin

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