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French press review 2 June 2018

The postponed Trump-Kim summit on North Korea's nuclear capacity is, after all, going to take place. What can be done to save the world's oceans from destruction by the billions of tonnes of plastic which we humans have been dumping there?


The boys are going to meet after all.

Those on-again, off-again talks involving the two weirdest haircuts on the planet will finally take place. Probably. America's Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un of North Korea are to meet on 12 June in Singapore. Unless something dramatic happens in the meantime.

Le Monde speaks of the "intense and delicate diplomatic ballet" required to get the two notoriously touchy leaders to the talks, which are still not, according to the French daily, "completely confirmed".

Trump, with typical never-mind-the-details bluster, has been saying he wants the whole deal done and dusted in a single meeting, even if he admits that the complexities of the case may delay a final agreement. More than half a century of conflict and mistrust won't be wiped out that easily.

Basically, the US want to see a complete end to the North Korean nuclear programme. Kim Jong-un wants to be assured that denuclearisation won't leave his country defenceless and that the thaw in relations with Washington will continue.

The devil, as the saying goes, is in the detail. And Trump's ignorance of most of the matters covered in the small print won't make them go away.

Which is not to say that having the two chaps chatting is not a lot better than having them throwing missiles at one another.

Getting along like a house on fire

Le Figaro is also delighted that the already once-postponed meeting between the two nuclear powers looks like it will now go ahead.

The right-wing daily quotes President Trump as saying the North Koreans have promised an end to their nuclear ambitions and he won't impose any more sanctions. There's to be no more talk of "maximum pressure" on the regime in Pyongyang, Haircut Number One told journalists yesterday, "we have a good understanding with the North Koreans".

Le Figaro suggests that the sudden thaw of relations between Washington and Haircut Number Two is probably related to a similar recent softening of the tone locally between the two Koreas. In the wake of the historic handshake between the leaders of North and South in April, there have already been several low-level meetings to discuss commercial, sporting and even military cooperation between the two sides, still technically at war and observing the long ceasefire which ended the Korean War 65 years ago.

Show some bottle in the battle against plastic

Left-leaning Libération gives the front-page honours to what the paper calls "The blue bin," a tragic reference to the globe's oceans, currently collapsing under the sheer bulk of junk which we humans have allowed to accumulate there.

Libé points out that, by the year 2050, according to United Nations figures, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish.

Last week the European Commission banned "single-use plastic objects" like drinking straws, goblets, plates and cutlery.

The sudden flurry of official interest in the oceans is probably not unrelated to a decision taken by Beijing last January to close China's doors to the boatloads of rubbish being sent by everyone else for recycling. Since most countries don't have the capacity to do that recycling themselves, they now have no choice but to cut down on the waste production side.

Today the activist group Plastic Attack intends to target French supermarkets, with supporters being asked to do their normal weekend shopping but to remove all unnecessary packaging and dump the superfluous junk at the supermarket doors.

Libération suggests that the future may reside in something called polyhydroxyalkanoate, a bioplastic which is produced by bacteria fed on organic waste.

According to its inventors, the Californian company Full Cycle Bioplastics, the stuff can be used in compost, is completely degradable and is economically competitive with normal plastics made from crude oil. All they need now is a name the rest of us can pronounce and they're laughing all the way to the sandbank.


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