Big Brother diplomacy

Catherine Fieschi on the rise of summitry in the age of reality TV

The World Today
2 minute READ

While Donald Trump and his crew were busy trashing international agreements on trade and nuclear proliferation, they were also playing host to Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel; the leaders of North and South Korea met for the first time at their border; and by the end of June Kim Jong-un and Trump may well have met in Singapore.

Aside from the unnerving sense of watching a pantomime on a termite-riddled stage, two things are striking. The first is the increasing importance of what Abba Eban, a former Israeli foreign minister, referred to in the 1980s as the emerging ‘age of summitry’ – a form of diplomacy that places the emphasis on face-to-face meetings between leaders, rather than dealings between diplomats.

Summits aren’t new of course – but they used to be historical events. Now we have summits the way teenage girls have sleep-overs.

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