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NightWatch 20110826


For the Night of 26 August 2011

Japan: Prime Minister Naoto Kan told the ruling Democratic Party of Japan's senior lawmakers that he was resigning as head of the party, Kyodo reported 26 August. An election for the new leader of the party, the eventual next prime minister, is expected to be held on 29 August. If that occurs, parliament will confirm him as premier on the 30th, the sixth in five years.

Comment: Kan's resignation is the result of his mishandling the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima reactor crises. According to some Japanese political analysts, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, 54 is the frontrunner to replace Kan. He declared his candidacy on the 26th promising fiscal discipline that might include higher taxes.

Public opinion polls favor former foreign minister Seiji Maehara, who announced his candidacy on 27 August. At 49 he would become Japan's youngest prime minister.

North Korea-China: During a stop in northeast China, North Korean leader Kim Chong-il restated his readiness to restart nuclear talks in return for aid, without preconditions. He also restated his willingness to impose a nuclear test and production moratorium.

Comment: This is the same position Kim took with the Russians.

Palestinian Statehood-two views.

Iran: President Ahmadi-Nejad said today, "… There will be no room for Israel in the region after the formation of a Palestinian state, and that once the state is established, the liberation of all Palestinian lands should follow."

US: The United States will stop providing financial aid to the Palestinian territories if the Palestinians attempt to upgrade Palestine at the U.N. General Assembly, US Consul General in Jerusalem Daniel Rubinstein told Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on 26 August. The United States would also veto a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for recognition of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and U.N. membership for the state.

For the record:

Egypt: The threatened million-man demonstration did not take place.

Libya:  News services reported Tripoli as starting to calm.

Russia-Venezuela: Russia is ready to loan Venezuela $4 billion to purchase military weapons and equipment, according to a Russian diplomatic source, Kommersant reported 26 August. The source said the loan is an opportunity for Moscow to support a key regional ally during Venezuela's upcoming election campaign.

Comment: This is more of the same, though the context of elections seems discordant. Since 2005, Russia already has extended loans worth more than $ 6 billion for arms for modern fighter aircraft, helicopters, tanks, S300 surface to air missiles and assault rifles. 

End of NightWatch for 26 August.

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