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Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Good morning. The US has held back-channel talks with Iran to warn the Islamic republic against escalating the war between Israel and Hamas into a broader regional conflict, according to President Joe Biden’s top security adviser.
US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Washington had the means to communicate privately with Iran and “we have availed ourselves of those means over the past few days to make clear privately that which we have said publicly”.
He was speaking after the US announced it was sending a second aircraft carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean as Israel’s preparations for a ground offensive against Gaza heightened diplomats’ concerns that the war could trigger a broader conflagration.
Western and Arab diplomats fear the war could inflame the region and are particularly concerned that it could draw in Hizbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group, and other militants who are also supported by Tehran.
“The threat yesterday was real. The threat today is real,” Sullivan told CBS’s Face The Nation. “There is a risk of an escalation of this conflict, the opening of a second front in the north, and of course of Iran’s involvement — that is a risk.” Read the full story.
Visual investigation: Did Israel bomb a civilian evacuation route in Gaza? Here’s what video analysis revealed.
Fears of a humanitarian disaster in Gaza: As Israel continues its military response to Hamas’s attacks, it faces increasing pressure to minimise civilian casualties in the besieged enclave.
A wave of antisemitism in Europe: Incidents of antisemitic graffiti in Berlin reflects a big uptick in threats and insults directed at Jews in Germany in the wake of Hamas’s terror attack.
Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:
Middle East diplomacy: US secretary of state Antony Blinken, who has been touring the region, is due to return to Israel.
China-Thailand relations: Thailand’s prime minister Srettha Thavisin begins a four-day visit to China to meet President Xi Jinping and attend the Belt and Road Forum.
Companies: mining company Rio Tinto releases its third-quarter operations review.
Anniversaries: Walt Disney, the world’s largest entertainment company, commemorates its 100th anniversary.
Five more top stories
1. Japan’s stock exchange is to introduce a radical new name and shame regime to drive better governance and higher valuations. Hiromi Yamaji, chief executive of the Japan Exchange Group, says he intends to make it clearer to investors which companies are meeting goals towards lifting corporate value — a critical catalyst in helping the country’s markets to reclaim the ground lost after their crash more than 30 years ago. Here’s what that means for companies.
2. The spectre of a wider conflict in the Middle East poses a fresh threat to the global economy, finance ministers and officials have warned. As delegates convened for the IMF and World Bank’s meetings in Morocco, the mood darkened as the wider implications of the Israel-Hamas war mixed with underlying anxiety about persistent vulnerabilities in the global economy. The FT’s Sam Fleming and Colby Smith report from Marrakech.
3. Opposition leader Donald Tusk could return as Polish prime minister, according to an exit poll after Sunday’s parliamentary election. The ruling Law and Justice party is expected to come in first place, but without the votes to govern alone or with a far-right party. Tusk pledged during the campaign to reposition Warsaw on a firm pro-European path after years of feuding between Poland and the EU. Here’s more on the election results.
4. New Zealand’s Labour party has suffered a humbling election defeat after it lost half its parliamentary seats compared with Jacinda Ardern’s triumph in 2020. The centre right National party, led by Christopher Luxon, is set to lead the country with support from the libertarian ACT party. Read more on New Zealand’s swing to the right.
5. Exclusive: A Silicon Valley law firm that has represented global technology groups for decades is exploring opening a Singapore office, its first in Asia outside greater China. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati’s potential move into Singapore comes as the number of US companies doing tech deals and work in China has collapsed because of deteriorating relations between Beijing and Washington. Here’s more on the firm’s Singapore talks.
The Israel-Hamas war is becoming a big test of China’s ambitions to build influence in the Middle East, according to diplomats and analysts. Washington remains overwhelmingly the strongest military power — and main diplomatic player — in the Middle East. But China’s economic role has grown rapidly and Beijing is on good terms with most countries in the region, including Iran, the backer of Hamas and Lebanon’s Hizbollah. Can China use this influence to prevent a regional conflagration?
We’re also reading . . .
Flying is getting better and also harder: New technology is improving travel just as flight shaming enters a new phase, writes Pilita Clark.
Power struggle: The party of India’s prime minister Narendra Modi took over one of the country’s most prestigious private clubs. Its members are not happy.
Elon Musk’s war on ‘legacy media’: The idea that “experts” who pay for influence on social media are a better source of news than journalists is a fallacy, writes Jemima Kelly.
Chart of the day
Companies have raised just $3.5bn from Hong Kong listings this year, down almost 70 per cent from a year ago and on track for the lowest annual total in two decades. The downsized initial public offering of Chinese start-up J&T Express comes as global investors are increasingly pessimistic over China’s growth outlook and frayed relations with the US.