For the Night of 22 August 2013
North Korea-South Korea: North Korean authorities have agreed to hold talks on separated family reunions at the truce village of Panmunjom, as required by South Korea.
Comment: Pyongyang had proposed that the Mount Kumgang resort be the venue for negotiating reunions and the resumption of tours from South Korea. The South preferred that the two sets of negotiations be separate. The North's prompt acceptance of the South's position reinforces the judgment that the Pyongyang regime needs the cash flow. In any event, the North's charm offensive continues, despite Allied training in the South.
That is unusual and is tonight's good news.
Kaesong. South Korean authorities provided a progress report on resuming operations at the Kaesong industrial zone. According to the Unification Ministry on 22 August, 253 staff members from companies in the zone visited Kaesong to check on facilities with the aim of preparing them for operations, rather than for preservation.
Comment: The press statement indicates that the 42 hi-tech and machinery firms that are in the zone were the focus of today's visit. On the 23d inspection of textile firms will take place. On the 26th, repairs to manufacturing equipment will commence. Production is expected to resume by the end of September.
India-Pakistan: Update. The Pakistan Army said unprovoked Indian fire from across the Line of Control killed two of Pakistani soldiers on 22 August.
A Pakistani security official said one soldier was killed in the Poonch District, which is about 80 miles east of Islamabad. The second death occurred south of Poonch. Two Pakistani soldiers also were wounded.
India said its forces came under automatic weapons fire in roughly the same area in the evening and reported "effective retaliation" by its own soldiers, but made no mention of casualties.
Comment: Pakistan denies that it is provoking India, but its soldiers are getting killed and Pakistan Army units are not retaliating against India, which would be the normal counter-reaction. Pakistan claims it is exercising maximum restraint.
Both sides have based major conventional forces along the Line of Control for so long that almost every potential target has been registered for artillery fire for years. Both sides maintain careful watch of unusual activity and movements and know the range of each other's guns. Commanders understand the risks of movements and fire exchanges, which appear to be fairly commonplace and harmless. That has changed for now.
The ambush and killing of five Indian Army soldiers in Indian Kashmir on 6 August are driving India's hard-line response to firing incidents from the Pakistani side of the Line. India blames the deaths on Pakistan Army soldiers as well as Pakistan-backed militants. Since the 6th India has engaged in asymmetrical retaliation for any incidents, using artillery to respond to machinegun fire, for example.
If these incidents continue, India will authorize more aggressive and prolonged attacks, not as retaliation but as deterrence. Escalation to a significant sectoral firefight will remain a threat Pakistan provides India a satisfactory report about the deaths on the 6th. In such firefights in the past, India has on occasion used attack helicopters to reinforce artillery to destroy bunkers and other targets on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control. This situation shows signs of moving towards such a firefight.
End of NightWatch for 22 August.
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