1. China's Belt and Road Initiative may come to Italy

What's going on
 President Xi Jinping visited Rome this week as a part of his six-day trip to Italy, Monaco and France to garner support for his Belt and Road Initiative. If Rome endorses Xi's massive infrastructure plan as expected, Italy will become the first G7 nation to do so.
What Ambassadors are saying
"Asia alone needs $26 trillion worth of infrastructure by 2030 according to the Asian Development Bank. That gives China the perfect opportunity to win friends. China's promise of financial and other support through institutions and multilateral initiatives of its own making, including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and its 'One Belt One Road' plan, can be bewitchingly enticing. (Ambassador Curtis Chin, former U.S. Ambassador to the Asian Development Bank, in Bloomberg )
2. EPP withdraws voting rights from ruling party in Hungary

What's going on
The European People's Party agreed to withdraw Fidesz's voting rights following an anti-EU billboard campaign and other infractions. Viktor Orban's party will not be able to vote in any EPP assembly, present candidates for post in the party, or participate in EPP meetings.
What Ambassadors are saying
"The Hungarians that I spoke to are proud to be members of the EU and most understand how that directly impacts their lives, despite all of the anti-EU rhetoric coming from the government." (Ambassador Colleen Bell, former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, on American Ambassadors Live! Podcast )
3. Two U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan

What's going on
Two U.S. service members were killed in Afghanistan on Friday, marking the third and fourth U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan this year. The U.S. has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan. The Trump administration is currently negotiating with the Taliban in an effort to bring the conflict in Afghanistan to an end.
What Ambassadors are saying
"We have been there too long, it has cost too much and it's never going to work right, but withdrawing our forces gives the advantage to other forces with more patience. The Taliban and al-Qaeda of today are tougher, meaner, smarter and more committed than they were 18 years ago." (Ambassador Ryan Crocker, former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, remarks from his lecture at Texas A&M University this week featured on The Eagle )

Former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco Edward Gabriel highlights items recently declassified by the State Department on the United States' foreign policy toward Morocco regarding the Western Sahara, including commitments to Moroccan sovereignty. Read here .
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