For the night of 19 June 2013
North Korea-China: China's Xinhua news service reported that North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan engaged in a strategic dialogue in Beijing today with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui. Kim also spoke with China's special envoy for Korean nuclear talks, Wu Dawei.
According to Chinese media, Zhang said China attaches great importance to bilateral relations and is ready to work with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to promote the long-term, sound and stable development of these relations.
He said it is in the interests of all parties concerned to realize denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, safeguard its peace and stability and resolve relevant issues through dialogue and consultation.
China supports dialogues among parties concerned and hopes to resume the six-party talks at an early date, he said.
Kim said the DPRK values the bilateral friendship and is willing to work with China to advance friendly cooperation.
"It is the wish of the deceased DPRK leader Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il to realize denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula," he said.
The DPRK is willing to hold dialogues with all related parties, he said, adding that the country is also ready to join in any form of talks, including the six-party talks, in order to resolve the nuclear issue through peaceful negotiations.
Comment: North Korean coverage of the strategic dialogue mentioned that it occurred; that the men talked about issues of mutual concern and that the talks were held in a comradely and friendly atmosphere. No North Korean media mentioned the North's willingness to engage in "any form of talks" to settle the nuclear issue.
The key sentence is that in which Kim Kye Gwan said denuclearization is the wish of the two deceased Kims. Kim Chong-il was fond of quoting that as his father's dying wish. In fact, the late Kim Il-sung actually vowed that North Korea would never possess nuclear weapons, before it started having success in building a nuclear program. Then that quote was forgotten, except for the fervent North Korean wish that US nuclear weapons would be removed permanently from South Korea.
Denuclearization for North Korea means the US disarms or commits to never threaten North Korea with nuclear weapons. It does not mean North Korea would destroy its weapons or program.
North Korea might be persuaded to freeze the programs in return for US guarantees and rewards. A freeze agreement most likely would signify the North had run out of feed stock or reactor fuel, rather than a commitment to peace and stability.
The more important point is that Kim Kye Gwan managed to persuade the Chinese that North Korea is heeding their advice in proposing nuclear talks, including six party talks. Their reward was an official Chinese statement that indirectly blesses the North Korean initiative and is aimed at reassuring the US the North is really serious… this time.
For the record. The North Korean Ministry of People's Security issued a special statement on the 19th that essentially threatens to kill defectors, whom it calls "sordid human scum." The statement mentions the Washington Post as printing articles contributed by defectors that copies of "My Struggle" were given as gifts.to North Korean officials. It did not, however, deny the report.
North Korean intelligence services have the capability to assassinate defectors in South Korea and Japan, if the government gives the order. Also, "special statements" seem to be in season.
Afghanistan: President Karzai's spokesman said Wednesday that Afghanistan has suspended Bilateral Security Agreement talks with the US and that Afghanistan will not pursue peace talks with the Taliban unless the United States steps out of the negotiations.
The spokesman explained President Karzai took the action because of a contradiction between what the US says and does.
Comment: The Afghan government judges it has been betrayed by the US in agreeing to talks with the Islamic Emirate. Afghanistan said no such entity exists. It was told the Doha office was only for negotiations.
Qatar said the Taliban betrayed their promise to open only a political office of the Taliban. Qatari authorities were persuaded to force the Taliban to take down their flag and their Islamic Emirate plaque. The US said the Afghan government had been kept fully informed.
The Taliban statement yesterday did not mention participation in talks by the Karzai government, which it does not recognize. The Karzai administration suspects the US agreed to talks without the participation of the Karzai government. Statements by unidentified officials yesterday said precisely that, but added that they hoped that the Karzai government eventually could join the talks once they got underway.
Another unidentified US official was quoted today saying that the purpose of the talks with the Taliban is to "disentangle nationalist jihadist forces" from "al Qaida's transnational jihadist agenda." ??? That statement is clearly misguided or misquoted because it seems to imply it would be okay to kill US forces so long as the nationalist jihadist forces did the killing.
And the killing of US soldiers continued today at Bagram Airfield where four more US soldiers died in an attack claimed by the Taliban. The prospective talks have no impact on the security situation. The Taliban said their purpose in talking was to achieve peace and reconciliation in an Islamic system. They might bolt
Turkey: Turkish protesters began silent protests on 18 June after a strong crackdown by the police.
Protesters stood silent and still in Taksim Square in Istanbul amid a reduced police presence. Hundreds of demonstrators in Ankara, Izmir and Adana also held "standing man" protests.
The only reports of clashes between riot police and protesters came from Ankara and Eskisehir, where police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse hundreds of people gathered for demonstrations.
Comment: Prime Minister Erdogan is keeping his commitment to permit a court challenge to the government's development plan for Taksim Square and to hold a city-wide referendum in Istanbul. Erdogan's popularity has declined, but he appears to have won the confrontation.
Egypt: Secular and liberal opposition groups have engaged in violent protests over President Mursi's appointment of 17 provincial governors, seven of whom are Muslim Brotherhood members. Violent clashes were reported in four Nile Delta provinces, in Alexandria and in two provinces south of Cairo.
The Muslim Brotherhood said the refusal of opposition leaders to talk to President Mursi was responsible for the violence.
Comment: The loose coalition of secular, mainly urban portion of the population and the Christians hope to stage large rallies on 30 June calling for Mursi to resign and hold new presidential elections. Through the appointments, Mursi is simply consolidating the Islamist hold on power. According to one commentary, the new governor of Luxor, Egypt's top tourist spot, was once a member of the Islamist terrorist group that attacked Luxor in 1997, resulting in 58 foreigners and four Egyptians killed.
Brazil: The Brazilian government will deploy troops to Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Bahia, Ceara and Brasilia in an effort to subdue widespread protests by citizens demanding better public services.
In Sao Paulo, Rio and most other cities, authorities revoked the fare increase that first prompted the demonstrations.
Comment: It is not clear whether the troops are paramilitary riot police or soldiers. All week the President and other government officials have tried to co-opt the protests by praising them as a sign of a robust democracy. So far that tactic has served to encourage larger protests. They remain mostly peaceful. The country is not unstable and the government is not in danger of collapsing.
End of NightWatch for 19 June.
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