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French press review 10 March 2018


There's more analysis and comment on the proposed Trump-Kim negotiations on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula in the French press. Is it a step forward or a diplomatic dead-end? And, where would you like to go for your summer holidays?

Le Monde continues yesterday's torrent of praise for US president Donald Trump, seeing his decision to talk to the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as a diplomatic breakthrough.

But, as the centrist daily makes clear on an inside page, there's a long way to go to reconcile the interests of two bizarre leaders. Trump wants to denuclearise the Korean peninsula; Kim wants to get his country off the hook of international sanctions.

While talking is clearly better than testing nuclear weapons and the missiles capable of firing them into the neighbour's backyard, the two haircuts will have to get over a certain mutual hostility. Trump has described Kim as "a cruel and brutal dictator", promising to "wipe him out completely" if he becomes capable of threatening the US or her allies.

The State Department says it's exactly that sort of tough talk which has brought the North Korean leader to the point of negotiations, marking a break with 27 years of failure by previous US administrations to generate meaningful dialogue.

Le Monde wonders about the reaction of the Chinese authorities, for long the sole supporters of the Pyongyang regime. Beijing is caught between an understandable fear of a nuclear war on its doorstep and the loss of face at being sidelined by Trump's unpredictable diplomacy.

Most analysts agree that bilateral talks between the US and North Korea won't get very far, and could even be counter-productive, if China is left out of the frame.

Donald Trump's high-risk wager

Le Figaro is also excited about the prospect of talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

Its main headline summarises the situation as "Donald Trump plays double or quit", with the conservative paper's editorial, itself headlined "A risky wager", maintaining the gambling parlance and reminding us that only weeks ago these two shooting stars of the diplomatic heavens were trading names and threatening mutual annihilation.

The Donald dubbed Kim "the little fat guy" and "Rocketman"; Kim called the US leader a "mentally deranged US dotard" and, with a very un-Asian disrespect for the aged, condemned him to death.

Le Figaro suggests that it is exactly the bizarre personalities of the two leaders that have made this historic face-to-face possible: they are both attracted by the audacious, both keen to impress a global and domestic audience.

But caution is called for, warns Le Figaro. North Korea has offered concessions in the past, has taken the benefits in terms of relaxed sanctions and cash, but has not delivered on the promises made.

The chances of a real breakthrough are very small this time as well.

Can two madmen reach a sane agreement?

Left-leaning Libération is even less optimistic. Their headline reads "Fingers on the button", a reminder that these talks, historic and unprecedented as they undoubtedly are, will take place against a background of nuclear preparedness on both sides. Libé says the whole story should be welcomed with equal doses of hope and scepticism.

Libération's editorial is uncompromising: on the basis of the mathematical principle that minus by minus equals plus, the paper suggest that two madmen could reach a reasonable deal.

Already, negotiating instead of trading insults is progress but the insults point to the lunacy. Is it a case of two loonies finding a common language? Two hairstyles in search of global validation? A clever tyrant taking advantage of a stupid bully?

Here comes the sun

Le Figaro shows a sure grasp of the financial realities facing many readers with a front-page story recommending 20 foreign destinations for this year's summer holidays.

From Finland to Fiji, Ladakh to Louisianna, you need nothing but a little time off and a lot of cash to be able to have the dream holiday of a lifetime.

Prices range from 5,990 euros per head for a safari in Tanzania, to 6,950 euros per person for a family cruise on the Amazon. The truly poor will have to make do with three nights at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, a snip at 2,668 euros, flights included.

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