North Korea-Southeast Asia: North Korean Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly Kim Yong-nam - roughly equivalent to a president as a ceremonial head of state -- met with Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang and Communist Party head Nguyen Phu Trong in Hanoi on 6 August. Kim will meet with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Aug. 7 before leaving for Laos.
Comment: The timing of this trip suggests it is a new outreach initiative to old allies. At a minimum, Kim Yong-nam will explain the goals and policies of the new Kim regime. In addition to China, North Korea has had continuous friendly relations with Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba, through good and bad times.
Afghanistan: Taliban fighters killed two New Zealand soldiers and four Afghan intelligence officers Saturday in an ambush in Bamiyan Province in central Afghanistan.
The intelligence officers, members of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan's intelligence agency, had received a report of explosives and IEDs stockpiled in one of the districts of Bamiyan. When the NDS officers executed an operation to seize them, the Taliban ambushed them.
They also ambushed the squad of New Zealand Army troops who responded to the NDS officers' request for help. In addition to the two dead soldiers, six New Zealand soldiers were wounded. Ten NDS officers, one policeman and one civilian also were wounded.
New Zealand's 153-man contingent came under attack again on 5 August, but without sustaining casualties.
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