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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Tuesday 13 March 2018

Diplomacy

Image: Shutterstock

Public eye

Mongolia’s former president is courting international attention by offering to host the Trump-Kim summit.

Now that US president Donald Trump has agreed to face-to-face talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, one of the big questions is where the two leaders could meet. As the sides discuss plans, one ​​former head of state ​in Asia ​has weighed in on Twitter with a suggested location: Ulaanbaatar. Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Mongolia’s president from 2009 to 2017, called his country “the most suitable, neutral territory” for a Trump-Kim summit. Though it isn’t Elbegdorj’s decision to make, his idea isn’t unreasonable. Kim is unlikely to agree to a meeting place far from home and Mongolia, which has friendly ties with the US and North Korea (Mongolia’s top diplomat visited Pyongyang just last month) and has sought a role as a neutral regional peacemaker, is that rare Asian nation that poses little threat to either side. Could this be Mongolia’s diplomatic moment in the limelight, even if it is only as the backdrop to a more momentous occasion?

Manufacturing

Image: Getty Images

Scrapheap challenge

Volkswagen’s new electric car is unlikely to deflect dismay at the firm’s decision to bin the Beetle.

Exactly a week on from the opening of the Geneva Motor Show and the buzz surrounding the new products premiered by the world’s automotive brands is starting to quieten down. However, when Volkswagen’s management board holds its annual news conference today in Berlin, group CEO Matthias Müller will try and lend some more momentum to the models presented in Switzerland – particularly the ID Vizzion Concept, an electric concept car that’s set to hit the market in 2022. Yet you should also expect a few journalists to question (and lament) the company’s decision to call time on one of its most iconic designs, the VW Beetle, which will not be updated once the current generation retires according to the firm’s R&D boss Frank Welsch.

Urbanism

Talk of the town

Mayors are arriving at Mipim and building sustainable cities is on the agenda.

The world’s leading property-market fair has pitched its tents in Cannes once again for the 29th edition of Mipim, which begins today. One hundred countries will be represented at the Palais des Festivals convention centre overlooking the Mediterranean, which will host 24,200 participants and more than 100 conferences. Alongside key figures in the industry, mayors galore will be attending the event and we’ll be hearing from a few, including Paris’s Anne Hidalgo, Milan’s Giuseppe Sala and Oslo’s Raymond Johansen, as they discuss how we can reinvent cities in collaboration with businesses to create sustainable regeneration. With two thirds of the global population expected to live in urban centres by 2050 and an estimated 10 more megacities to be built by 2030, this year’s theme of Mapping World Urbanity will explore the best strategies for investing in and constructing cities in a globalised world. Stay tuned for exclusive coverage from Mipim throughout the week.

Military

Abandon ship

The US navy has dropped anchor on plans to make its warships more environmentally friendly.

A US navy programme to go green is grinding to a halt. The navy is cancelling the installation of fuel-efficient hybrid electric drives in 34 destroyer warships, leaving only one ship with the new technology. The scheme had so far racked up a price tag of $52m (€42m), with the full budget projected to be $356m (€289m). The destroyer USS Truxtun – the only vessel that’s been fitted with the new technology – will now be observed to see if it pays off. While there were still kinks in the programme (there are concerns about hybrid destroyers being able to keep up with the fleet, for example), its cancellation before improvements can be made is likely to take the wind out of the sails of any future development.

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