US-South Korea meeting, Colombia election, Irish abortion vote
The FT's Josh de la Mare previews the big stories in the week ahead, including a meeting between South Korea and the US, presidential elections in Colombia, Ireland's referendum on abortion, and a visit by France's President Macron to Vladimir Putin.
Studio filmed by Nicola Stansfield and Bianca Wakeman. Produced by Josh de la Mare.
Hello, and welcome to the Week Ahead from the Financial Times in London. Here are some of the big stories we'll be watching this week.
The US and South Korea meets to discuss North Korea. Colombians go to the polls for a new president. UK bellwether retailer and Spencer faces uncertain results. French President Emmanuel Macron has talks with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Iran and Ukraine. And Ireland votes on whether to lift a ban on abortion.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in heads to Washington on Tuesday, where he'll meet with US President Donald Trump. The top of the agenda will be North Korea, which last week sparked a flurry of concern when it raised the possibility of cancelling a potentially historic summit with the US on June the 12th where Mr Trump is due to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. Mr Moon's visit is aimed at sharing tips and strategies ahead of the highly anticipated summit and to keep talks on track, as his spokesperson made clear recently.
Colombians are likely to buck the global populist trend in presidential elections this week and vote for a centre-right candidate from the establishment. Ivan Duque, 41, a protege of former President Alvaro Uribe, comfortably leads polls with 34% of the vote.
That lead is probably not enough for the youthful senator to win outright in the first round vote, but it's certainly enough to propel Mr Duque into the June 17th runoff. There, his rival will most likely be Gustavo Petro, a former M-19 guerrilla and mayor of Bogota, currently polling at 23%.
The often bitter electoral race has been polarised by President Juan Manuel Santos'S controversial peace deal with the Farc, a Marxist guerrilla group, and the implosion of neighbouring socialist Venezuela. Sales of dresses in underwear used to be what concerned investors in Marks and Spencer, one of the UK's most famous retailers. To that, they can now add food. Retail correspondent Jonathan Eley has more on what to expect from their results this week.
Marks and Spencer is perhaps the retailer that's closest to the heart of British people, so its fortunes matter enormously in the national consciousness. One thing we're looking out for is food sales. They have traditionally been a driver of growth at the store over the last few years. At the interim results in November, there was a slowdown in food. They're not opening as many new food stores, so it'll be interesting to see if that trend is better or worse since then.
Another thing to watch, the mood music between the chief executive Steve Rowe who is a lifelong Marks and Spencer employee, came from the shop floor, and Archie Norman, the chairman who joined last September. He's external, big reputation, veteran of many turnrounds, very widely admired, but he's very hands on, very forthright, very opinionated. The two seem to be getting on so far. They made a big show of unity at the interims in November. But since then, there have been quite a few management departures from Marks and Spencer, so it will be interesting to see if their relations are still holding firm.
French President Emmanuel Macron travels to St Petersburg's International Economic Forum this week for a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The encounter comes after US President Donald Trump's decision to pull out from the Iran nuclear agreement, and also following air strikes by the US, France, and the UK against the Russian-supported Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. However, the EU is now more focused on salvaging the Iranian nuclear deal, notably with the help of Russia. The 40-year-old French leader has sort of become the favourite middle man between Mr Trump and Mr Putin.
And Irish voters go to the polls this Friday in a referendum to repeal the country's constitutional ban on abortion. The abortion question is one of the most contentious in the politics of a once strongly Catholic country that voted in 2015 to legalise gay marriage, but surveys suggest the campaign to remove the ban on abortion has a large but narrowing lead. And that's what the weak head looks like from the Financial Times in London. Goodbye.