North Korea-South Korea: A senior North Korean official said that a South Korean proposal to build a peace park in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) will depend on the success of the Kaesong industrial zone, according to a South Korean businessman recently returned from Pyongyang.
The businessman was in Pyongyang for the celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement on 27 July. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un thanked the business man for his work in helping the North Korean economy.
In a meeting with reporters after his recent 11-day trip to the North, the businessman said that a top North Korean official responsible for North-South relations told him the two initiatives are linked.
Comment: South Korean President Park supports the peace park proposal, which she mentioned during his visit to the US in May. The businessman's report is significant because it marks the first time that any source has conveyed tentative positive North Korean consideration of the proposal.
The North's linkage of the peace park to Kaesong tends to corroborate earlier judgments that North Korea needs investment and, for now, is willing to accept it from the South.
North Korea:For the record. A North Korean government delegation led by Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun left Pyongyang Saturday, 10 August, to visit African countries.
Comment: Over many decades, diplomatic activities, such as Pak's trip, have proven to be strong indicators of normality in the North. The North's leaders apparently are in a cooperative mood.
China-Japan: On Sunday,The Japanese Coast Guard detected three Chinese coast guard ships sailing around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea just outside Japan's territorial waters. Japanese press reported that was the 26th straight day of such Chinese patrols.
On Saturday, four Chinese coast guard ships entered Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands and stayed for an hour.
Comment: On Wednesday and Thursday a Chinese patrol stayed in the area for more than 28 hours, the longest intrusion detected. That patrol began the day after Japan announced the launch of its helicopter-carrying destroyer, Izumo. The correlation does not appear accidental. The Tokyo government made an official protest.
Thus far, no confrontation at sea has taken place. Chinese coast guard patrols have become more frequent. The next escalation step is they will become more aggressive.
India: India launched its first indigenously-built aircraft carrier on Monday, 12 August, completing the first phase of construction. Defense Minister Antony's wife christened the ship INS Vikrant, which means "courageous" in Sanskrit.
Construction of the hull began at the Cochin Shipyard in 2006. During the next three years the superstructure will be built and the propulsion system and the weapons suite will be installed. In 2016 the ship is scheduled to engage in trials and it will be inducted into the Navy in 2018.
When completed, the ship will measure 260 meters (853ft) in length by 60 meters 196ft) in breadth. It displaces 37,500 tonnes (40,700 tons). It will have a ski-jump launch ramp for MiG-29K fighters and will carry a complement of Kamaz naval helicopters.
Comment: Vikrant is the first of two ships in its class. The Indian Navy presently has one operational aircraft carrier at Mumbai. A second is completing extensive refit in Russia and is overdue for delivery. India hopes to receive it by the end of 2014. The navy plans to have three carrier battle groups by around 2025: one for each coast and one in reserve.
Press coverage has stressed the significance of India as having now joined the exclusive club of aircraft carrier building nations: The US, France, the UK and Russia. More significant is that the Indian Navy has sailed aircraft carriers since 1961 and fought them in wars. It has more than half a century of experience in training flight crews and conducting carrier-based flight operations and the infrastructure to support them.
India's strategy for aircraft carriers is narrow. Their primary missions are to provide air defense protection for the fleet, India's coasts and sea lanes plus to support Indian diplomacy. They have no power projection mission, in the US sense.
India-Pakistan - Jammu and Kashmir State: Indian sources claimed that Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire in Kashmir twice on Monday targeting Indian forward posts along the international border in Poonch and Samba districts of Jammu and Kashmir State. No casualties were reported.
On Friday, forces exchanged heavy fire in Poonch district, killing three people. India has imposed a curfew in six of the ten districts of Jammu. This exchange of fire and clashes between Muslims and Hindus occurred after Muslim prayer services for the Eid al Fitr holiday that follows the end of Ramadan.
The clashes between Muslims and Hindus that erupted Friday after prayer services for the Id al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan added
Comment: Longstanding infiltration routes run through these districts from Pakistan. Indian authorities are concerned that Pakistani elements are trying to rebuild the strength and capabilities of Kashmiri separatists again.
The most serious recent incident was the death of 5 Indian soldiers in an ambush on 6 August. Pakistan denied Indian claims that Pakistanis executed the ambush. Thus far political leaders have not let the recent surge in incidents damage relations. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that Pakistani politicians are incapable of controlling destabilizing actions on both the Indian and Afghan borders.
Unconfirmed reports today related that some Pakistan Army elements want to withdraw army units engaged in stability operations on the Afghan border and redeploy them to the Kashmir region in the east. Elements of the Pakistan Army have deep-seated aversion to fighting Pakistani citizens, even Pashtun rebels.
The risk of a ceasefire collapse is small and of escalation to sustained fighting even smaller. Nevertheless, hardline nationalists on both sides want tension to remain high because it supports their nationalist political agendas.
Egypt: The National Security Council has not yet decided how to end the pro-Mursi/Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in Cairo. A Council meeting, headed by interim President Adly Mansour, was held on Monday to decide on a final solution for dealing with anti-government protestors. The pro-Mursi supporters have been staging sit-ins at Nasr City's Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square in northeastern Cairo and in Giza's Al-Nahda Square.
Comment: Earlier on Monday, the government indicated that clearing operations would commence. Later that proved to have been a ruse to prod the less-dedicated protestors to return home. It failed.
The search for a less violent solution continues both to avoid bloodshed and to deny the protestors martyr status.
Panama-North Korea: Update. Public Security Minister Jose Raul Mulino said today that Panama removed the North Korean cargo ship's last unopened container. It was buried under sacks of sugar, and found it held equipment for launching missiles.
According to the press, Panama has unloaded and searched 25 containers, in which it found a variety of weapons systems and parts, including live munitions.
On 13 August a UN inspection team of experts is scheduled to begin its investigation to determine whether the cargo violates the UN arms embargo on North Korea.
Cuba, the source of the weapons, contends that the 240 tons of arms do not violate sanctions because the arrangement is a maintenance contract by which the weapons will be returned to Cuba.
Comment: The Cubans have explained the presence of the weapons, but have given no reason for their burial under 10,000 tons of sugar bags.
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