5 things for July 16: Trump and Putin, North Korea, World Cup
Posted July 16, 2018 6:06 a.m. EDT
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1. Trump-Putin summit
The much-anticipated meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland is upon us. We'll see the two men together right around the time you get this newsletter, ahead of their scheduled 90-minute meeting. We'll see them again at about 7:50 a.m. ET, right before they have a working lunch. Then Trump and Putin will hold a news conference a little before 10 a.m. ET. Click here for live updates.
Trump spent the hours before the summit on his fave social media platform, tweeting out blame for the dismal state of relations between the US and Russia -- on the US. He blasted Barack Obama, years of "US foolishness and stupidity" and the special counsel's investigation into Russia's 2016 election interference. He also congratulated President Putin for successfully putting on the World Cup.
So what will be on the agenda for this meeting? No doubt the Justice Department's indictment of 12 Russian agents accused of hacking Democrat emails and computer networks during the 2016 election. But also Syria, North Korea, arms control and Russia's annexation of Crimea. It'll be the most surreal summit between the two countries in history, CNN's Stephen Collinson said.
2. North Korea
The US and North Korea will restart the search for the remains of the estimated 5,300 Americans who didn't come home from the Korean War. "Productive" talks over the weekend resulted in the agreement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. The countries first started such searches in 1996, but stopped them by 2005 because of rising tensions over the North's nuclear ambitions. It's not clear when the searches will begin. President Trump has touted the planned return of remains as one of the successes of his summit last month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The open letter is emotional, impassioned and heartbreaking. "To the people of the United States, please help us. We are desperate parents," reads the first line of the letter, dated Sunday and sent from the Port Isabel Service Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas. It's from 54 detainees there and they're seeking help in being reunited with their children after being separated at the US border with Mexico.
The parents say they're not criminals and came to the US to save their lives and those of their children. "We were not prepared for the nightmare that we faced here. The United States government kidnapped our children with tricks and didn't give us the opportunity to say goodbye," they write. They say they've heard close to nothing about their children in more than a month. Right now, there are about 2,551 children over the age of 5 who are supposed to be reunited with their parents by a court-ordered July 26 deadline.
The number of Afghan civilians killed in the first six months of the year has reached a record high. A new report from the UN says almost 1,700 civilians died in attacks from January 1 to June 30. That's higher than any comparable time over the last decade. And the violence is continuing in the second half of 2018. At least seven people were killed when a suicide bomber set off explosives at the gate of a government ministry near its parking area. Government staffers were leaving work and headed home when the blast occurred.
5. World Cup
Oh, World Cup 2018. You had pretty much given us everything we'd ever wanted during the month-long celebration of soccer. Or so we thought. You actually saved the best for last, with that insane France-Croatia final that produced:
-- France winning its second World Cup, 4-2
-- the highest-scoring final since the 1960s
-- the first penalty ever awarded in a final by video replay
-- the first time in a final a team scored against itself, thanks to Croatia's Mario Mandzukic
-- the first teen to score in a final since Pele in the 50s
-- and even a political protest on the pitch, thanks to Pussy Riot. (The pic below is of a protester who invaded the field, high-fiving French phenom Mbappe.)
As expected, absolute joy broke out in France, as French soccer fans celebrated for hours under the Eiffel Tower.