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NightWatch 20130606

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NightWatch

For the night of 6 June 2013

South Korea: Update. Responding to North Korea's proposal to hold talks, South Korea suggested the countries hold a ministerial-level dialogue next week in Seoul and called on the North to reopen communications channels.

"The government suggests ministerial-level South-North talks on June 12 in Seoul in order to resolve issues of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the Mt. Kumgang resort and separated families….We positively view the North's acceptance today of what our government has insistently proposed," said the Unification Minister.

Comment: North Korea has not yet responded.  Both Koreas will want to host the talks so as to appear to be the driver behind reunification. A dispute over venue is virtually certain, but will not be a major obstacle.

China's reaction. At today's foreign ministry press conference, the spokesperson gave the following reply to a question about China's reaction to North Korea's overture to South Korea.

"The Chinese side is pleased with and welcomes the agreement by the DPRK and the ROK to resume engagement and dialogue. The Chinese side has always supported the North and the South resolving issues between them through dialogue and consultations and improving their relations. We hope that all sides will cherish the hard-earned momentum of dialogue, actively promote an early turnaround of the situation, and work together to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula."

Turkey: Erdogan returned from Tunisia on Thursday evening after a four-day visit to North Africa. He was in a fiery mood.

When he spoke in Tunis earlier, he seemed more conciliatory. He acknowledged that police had used "excessive force" against activists and backed the intervention by Deputy Prime Minister Arinc.

He insisted, however, that the protests were being manipulated. "Among the protesters, there are extremists, some of them implicated in terrorism," he told reporters. He also defended the urban development plan for Gezi Park in Taksim Square.

At Istanbul airport, Erdogan spoke before thousands of his supporters. He was defiant of the protestors. "These protests that are bordering on illegality must come to an end as of now." His supporters proclaimed "God is great." They also shouted "Let us go, let us smash them… Istanbul is here, where are the looters?"

Anti-Erdogan demonstrations in Ankara and Istanbul experienced no clashes. The police have been ordered to stay away.

Comment: Erdogan said he is the prime minister of all 78 million Turks, by which he meant the majority as well as the protestors. He threatened in one statement last weekend to awaken the majority against the protestors. That seemed to be the implied message of his spirited talk at the airport.

He appears willing to use his supporters against the protestors to make his point. More clashes are likely.

Mali: Update. Ten militants were killed and two soldiers wounded in Wednesday's fighting between the Malian army and Touareg fighters near Kidal in northern Mali. The military spokesman said no Malian soldiers died. The Malian army force is about 125 miles south of Kidal, which is its next target.

End of NightWatch for 6 June.

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