Night Watch

South Korea-North Korea: Update. Representatives from the two states met for 25 minutes at Kaesong. The South's negotiators gave a presentation on preventing future unilateral closures of the Kaesong complex.

The North talked about the need to get Kaesong operational again as soon as possible. North Korean radio said the North presented a practical plan for resuming work, which the South rejected in favor of blaming the North for the past closure.

Meanwhile, about 100 South Korean businessmen and support personnel inspected facilities at Kaesong today. Inspections are scheduled to continue on Thursday, 11 July. A third round of talks has been set for 15 July.

Comment: The two sides did not reach agreement on restarting production at the 123 Kaesong plants. However, the immediate goals of inspecting their condition and taking inventory of materials were achieved. In the end, the needs and wants of the business community will induce the Seoul government to reach a deal.

The urgency with which the North Koreans have pressed to restart the Kaesong plants suggests the lost income might have affected leadership accounts, meaning the Kim family and inner circle. If that is the case, the North will tolerate South Korean accusations in the interest of restarting the cash flow.

Turkey: For the record. Turkey's parliament banned a union from approving construction projects. Opposition parties said the group of architects and city planners was being punished by the government for challenging redevelopment plans for Taksim Square in Istanbul that ignited nationwide protests last month. The surprise measure was passed late Tuesday with the votes of Prime Minister Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development party, which holds a majority in parliament.

Lebanon: An obscure Syrian rebel group claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on Tuesday in Hizballah's stronghold in the southern suburbs of Beirut, wounding 53 people. The same group claimed responsibility for an attack on a Hizballah convoy in eastern Lebanon on 28 June.

In a statement it said it warned repeatedly that Hizballah must withdraw from Syria or it would experience attacks in Lebanon.

However, the mainstream rebel Free Syrian Army condemned the 9 July attack, calling it a "terrorist" act.

Comment: The hubris of a small extremist group is remarkable, but the spill over from the Syrian fighting actually has declined since the Syrian government and Hizballah forces captured Qusayr and began their offensive into central Homs.

Night Watch

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