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NightWatch 20111025

NightWatch

For the night of 25 October 2011

North Korea-US: Update. The talks in Geneva ended on 25 October with no date set for resumption. The US head of delegation said, "We had some very positive and generally constructive talks with the DPRK (North Korea) delegation. We narrowed differences on several points and explored differences on other points,"

U.S. officials said they used the Geneva talks to touch on "all issues" such as possible food aid for the North, reunions for separated families and other humanitarian issues.

North Korea's chief delegate said there was "big progress" and that the two sides had agreed to meet again for discussions on remaining issues. "We focused on discussing trust-building measures to improve North-Korea-US relations as agreed in the first round of talks (in New York in July), according to First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan.

US Ambassador Bosworth said the two sides will keep in touch through the so-called New York channel -- the North's mission to the United Nations.

Comment: The US did not hear what it wanted, but the North's reaction indicates it heard what it wanted, which means offers of food and other aid.

Pakistan-US: A pro-Taliban media outlet reported today, 25 October, that the high-powered US delegation that visited Islamabad recently made a formal request for help during the US troop pullout; pledged support for Pakistan's leadership role and an end to India's military role in Afghanistan. It reported the Americans have come to terms. Talks will be held in Istanbul on 2 November.

Comment: The author of the article describes his information as having come from Pakistani military sources. The publisher is viscerally anti-US, but the brief overview of the US visit seems generally accurate. Talks are scheduled for 2 November.

Haqqani talks. The Haqqani network will not take part in peace talks with the US until negotiations are led by Taliban leaders, an unnamed senior Haqqani commander said on 25 October. The US will be unable to resolve the Afghan conflict until it hold talks with Taliban leaders, he said. The Haqqani network, part of the Taliban led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, rejected peace talk offers in the past, the commander said.

Comment: If the Haqqani spokesman is telling the truth, then the US has made a serious analytical error about the nature of the relationship between the Haqqanis and Mullah Omar. The attempt to drive a wedge between Haqqani and Omar appears to have failed.

Yemen: Update. The Yemeni government and defected General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar signed a cease-fire on 25 October agreeing to release captives, a government official said. Vice President Abd Rabboh Mansour Hadi chaired the local committee that mediated the agreement, the official added.

Within hours of the agreement, renewed fighting resulted in 15 people killed in Sanaa.

Tunisia: Informal results from Sunday's elections indicate the Islamist party Ennahda won 43% of the vote and will be the party that forms a coalition government. Party leaders stressed they hope to form a national unity government.

Comment: The Arab Spring began in Tunisia and Tunisia is plotting its direction. One clear point is that the idea of secular government lost in the election, resulting from the turnout by a dedicated and better organized Islamist plurality. This is a study in democracy..

End of NightWatch for 25 October.

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