South Korea-China: South Korean President Park arrived in Beijing on the 27th to begin her state visit.
During this Watch, the Presidents of South Korea and China concluded a summit meeting in which they dealt with Korean issues and after which they issued a joint statement. Excerpts from the Xinhua coverage follow.
" Xi said both sides should respect each other's social systems and development paths, deepen win-win cooperation, work together to advance the process of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and enhance coordination and cooperation on major regional and global issues."
"Xi said China is firmly committed to seeking a nuclear-free peninsula."
" 'China resolutely safeguards the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the region, opposes any party that disrupts peace and stability and adheres to resolving problems through dialogue and negotiations,' Xi said."
"Park said the ROK is committed to safeguarding peace and stability in northeast Asia, seeking a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and resolving relevant issues through the six-party talks."
"The ROK appreciates China's role in promoting denuclearization and safeguarding peace and stability on the peninsula, Park said, pledging to increase strategic communication and cooperation with China and create favorable conditions for the resumption of the six-party talks."
"She underscored the ROK's commitment to improving ties with the DPRK on the basis of trust and laying a foundation for peace and unification on the peninsula."
Comment: The Chinese have been effusive in welcoming President Park. The success of the summit meeting might be measured by the parallel construction of the statements Xinhua attributed to the Presidents.
These two are likely to be the leaders in any future session of the Six Party Talks. Asians are taking charge of Asian security issues, for good and ill. This summit significantly illustrates and advances that long term trend.
Pakistan: Update. At the National Assembly. Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan informed the National Assembly on Thursday that a four-member committee of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had been constituted to probe treason charges against former President Musharraf.
Nisar said the investigating team comprises of two directors and two additional director-generals of the FIA, and that the team would complete its investigations over treason charges against Musharraf and submit a report to the government soon. He also said that the committee would hold meetings with him on a weekly basis.
At the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court adjourned the hearing of the treason case against Musharraf for an indefinite period to hold consultations about setting up a special court to hear the case.
The Court rejected a plea to order the formal arrest of Musharraf citing that no formal charges against the former president had been put before the court.
Comment: The parliament and the Supreme Court are moving rapidly on the treason case which promises to be a showpiece of the first part of Prime Minister Sharif's administration.
The Supreme Court also heard testimony on Wednesday that the Attorney General in the Pakistan People's Party-led government defied a direct order of the Court. The Chief Justice, leading the Court, ordered the government to send a letter to the Swiss government to re-open a criminal investigation against President Zardari for money laundering.
Musharraf had terminated the Swiss investigation as part of a political amnesty deal with Benazir Bhutto and her husband, Zadari in 2007. The Court found Musharraf's orders to be unconstitutional, including the deal with Bhutto, hence it directed the Attorney General to re-open the case.
What the Court learned this week is that the Attorney General wrote a letter as directed on 5 November 2012, but followed it up on 22 November with a secret letter directing the Swiss to ignore the earlier letter because Zardari has immunity from prosecution as president.
The Chief Justice said those involved in the second letter would face consequences.
Comment: The new government and the Supreme Court have aligned in order to establish the rule of law and to bring justice to Musharraf and the Zardari-led Pakistan People's Party. Both Nawaz Sharif and Chief Justice Chaudhry personally, along with many others, were abused by Musharraf and Zardari.
The position of the Pakistan government is that a sitting President is immune from prosecution. It is unclear whether that includes the investigation process before a complaint is filed. In any event, Zardari's immunity ends this fall when his term expires.
Syria: Yesterday, the official news agency, al Manar, reported that government forces had captured Tal Kalakh near the northern border of Lebanon, after several days of "fierce clashes." It was a key node for rebel arms smuggling.
Comment: Actually the Syrian army took control of the town over the weekend. Patrick Cockburn visited Tal Kalakh this week to investigate the government claims. He reported his interviews and findings in The Independent today. They are instructive. The rebels and town leaders cut a deal with the Syrian army leaders. The terms of the deal were not disclosed but shops have opened and residents expect no more fighting.
A local Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander said he and his men changed sides because they were disillusioned. A Syrian army officer said the town cut a deal because its leading men wanted to avoid its total destruction as occurred at al Qusayr. The 300-400 FSA men fled to Lebanon or merged back into the population.
Cockburn makes several significant points based on his conversations that are insightful about the nature of the fighting. First is the revelation that many local deals are being brokered or negotiated in many towns to prevent their destruction. Second, the deals are a consequence of the destruction of al Qusayr. Third, the deals are easier when Syrians are talking to Syrians. As a result, the Syrian residents move away from neighborhoods occupied by foreign fighters.
Cockburn judges that the local cease fire agreements are holding and will be critical to ending the violence.
His observations and those of his sources explain the sputtering pace of the fighting and add insight into the government's description of the rebels. The government's negotiating progress falls under or outside the reporting threshold of the mainstream international news agencies. Syrians are more prone to cooperate with the Syrian government than with foreign fighters.
The most important point Cockburn makes is that the simplistic media depiction of Syria as two hostile camps divided by disparity of cult is an inadequate representation of a complex security problem, made much worse by outside interventions.
US-Middle East: Senior US military authorities stated that the administration is considering sending US military personnel to Lebanon and Iraq. If those are approved, they raise to five the number of new US military commitments overseas.
End of NightWatch
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