Night Watch

North Korea-US: Speaking at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum session in Brunei, North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun said Washington should agree to replace the armistice that ended the 1950-1953 Korean War with a formal peace treaty before demanding Pyongyang to denuclearize.

"A touch-and-go crisis continues on the Korean Peninsula, which stems from the United States' deep-rooted hostile policy toward North Korea," Pak reportedly said. He urged the United States to hold talks with North Korea "without preconditions," dismissing a statement by US Secretary of State Kerry that Washington could hold talks with Pyongyang if it takes credible steps toward denuclearization.

Comment: North Korean diplomats are strapped in an ideological strait jacket. It is an ethnocentric and condescending throwback to pre-modern times when the Korea had a flourishing kingdom. The Kim family, although communists, adopted it.

The diplomats are given a script and are accompanied by minders from the security service to ensure they follow it. In the script the North's representatives always speak in public as if North Korea is a primary driver of world affairs. This explains their tedious emphasis on what others must do to have talks with North Korea. If the diplomats do not follow the script, they are severely punished.

The reality is that the diplomats know the North is weak and vulnerable and has little negotiating leverage. Thus the backdrop for Foreign Minister Pak's comments is the North's confusion that the US has not accepted what the government in Pyongyang considers a generous offer to talk.

The Chinese Foreign Minister had a one-on-one meeting with North Korean Foreign Minister Pak in which he said the North must return to the Six Party Talks. This effectively thwarted the North's latest attempt to carve out a format for bilateral talks with the US, separate from the Six Party format.

India-Jammu and Kashmir State: The Jammu Daily Excelsior newspaper published an article that related details of the financing channels used by Kashmir Muslim militants to finance their insurgency in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The article is based on official accounts of the interrogation of a captured Kashmiri financier.

"In a major success, police today established that the Kashmir militancy was being funded from Saudi Arabia, utilizing several money transfer channels. Authorities arrested a surrendered militant, who had so far distributed about $34,000 in Rupees among the militants of Jammu and Kashmir.

Night Watch

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