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NightWatch 20110110

NightWatch

For the Night of 10 January 2011

South Korea-North Korea: North Korea on Tuesday, 11 January, criticized South Korea' for rejecting the North's latest proposal for dialogue and insisted it is sincere in trying to mend relations.

The South offered government-level talks but said the North must admit responsibility for a series of provocations and confirm its commitment to scrapping its nuclear program.

Three state organizations in the North sent notices Monday to the South Korean Unification Ministry, which handles cross-border affairs, calling for working-level talks in the North's border city of Kaesong on 27 January. They also suggested talks between Red Cross organizations from the two sides in the South's city of Munsan on 1 February.

Comment: North Korea seems desperate for talks with the South, but has taken no action to meet South Korean conditions.

China-US: Special comment. International news services broadcast video and translations of Chinese Minister of Defense Liang insulting and hectoring the US, represented by the Secretary of Defense. The Chinese tasked Secretary Gates to defend and to explain to the Chinese why the US sells weapons to Taiwan and conducts naval training in the Yellow Sea. China demanded they stop. Instead of rejecting the Chinese demands and leaving, Gates tried to defend what needs not defense in Asia - US national policy.

A couple of points are worth noting. The tongue lashing Gates endured at a Singapore conference last year by a Chinese general clearly was no accident. That insult focused on the same issues as the latest.

Gates should have walked out of the Singapore meeting last year and should have walked out of today's session. It remains unclear what the US hoped to gain that merited humiliation.

China is not ready to be a cooperative partner in international security affairs as some analysts contend; resents and resists the tutelage or guidance that some analysts think the US must offer; and has no intention of becoming more open in response to US requests if only because the US wants it so badly.

Tunisia: Update. The government ordered the indefinite closure of all schools and universities across the country following weeks of civil unrest.

President Ben Ali also announced a plan to create 300,000 jobs over the next two years. He said that taxes will be removed for business projects that create jobs in rural regions and that "hostile elements" abroad are to blame for the recent unrest in Tunisia and that rioters are to blame for the recent "terrorist acts."

End of NightWatch for 10 January.

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