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NightWatch 20101118


For the Night of 18 November 2010

North Korea-South Korea: The General Guidance Bureau for the Development of Scenic Spots of the DPRK on Thursday, 18 November, sent a note to the South Korean Ministry of Unification of South Korea, urging it again to hold working-level talks aimed at resuming South Korean tours to North Korea. The North proposed 25 November as a date for talks, coincident with Red Cross talks about reunification

On 17 November South Korea formally rejected resumption of talks and declared that the so-called "Sunshine Policy" of providing economic and development aid to the North since 2000 was a failure.

Comment: Hyundai Asan corporation has invested heavily in the Mount Kumgang resort area, as a cornerstone of ex-President Kim Dae Jong's policy of friendly engagement with the North since 2000. Since 2008, the Lee government has been tougher with North Korea and has now abandoned conciliation as a failure to nurture economic growth in the North or predictably friendlier foreign policy.

The sinking of the South Korean corvette in March and the North's subsequent actions are the proximate causes of the latest rise in tension. In response to the South's accusation that North Korea sank the corvette, North Korea not only closed the east coast resort, but confiscated and sealed the buildings by official decree, claiming them as North Korean property.

Authorities unsealed the resort buildings for last month's North-South family reunions but immediately resealed them afterwards. The resealing appears to be the final straw for the South Korean administration.

The North is engaging in its customary practices of extortion, using Leninist tactics to cheat the capitalists and make them pay. With Japanese backing, South Korea is holding firm to its requirements that the North must apologize for sinking the corvette and must return the resort buildings to their rightful owners before official interactions can begin to return to normal.

Lithuania-US- Afghanistan: For the record. According to the U.S. Embassy in Vilnius, the United States has chosen the port of Klaipeda as Washington's latest transit hub for supplies to international troops in Afghanistan. U.S. and Lithuanian authorities said Klaipeda would be the starting point from which supplies would be transported across Russia via railway.

The first shipment is due next month, the embassy said in a statement, adding that shipments will continue as long as operational requirements remain. Operational requirements will determine the size, frequency and contents of the cargo shipped through Lithuania, the statement said. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said the cargo will benefit the Lithuanian economy, and this kind of cooperation will increase Lithuania's contribution to strengthening international security. Germany and the United Kingdom already use Klaipeda to support the mission in Afghanistan, Grybauskaite added.

Comment: The Baltic members of NATO remain willing to extend their hospitality to the US beyond other members because of their proximity to Russia and distance from the original NATO members. National security policy relies on making the NATO members and the US, especially, dependent on Lithuania for support as well as contributing forces to the Afghanistan effort, as resources permit. Lithuania has 219 troops in west-central Afghanistan, according to the ISAF web site.

Klaipeda was the site of a large Soviet naval base base because it is the best ice free Baltic port. A s a logistics hub for the northern supply route to Afghanistan, it should reduce eventually NATO's logistics vulnerability to Pakistani brigands and militant attacks

Madagascar: Update. The political standoff continues in which a mutinous group of soldiers occupies a barracks in Antananarivo. France has advised against travel to Madagascar.

End of NightWatch for 18 November.

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