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North Korea-South Korea: North Korea on Thursday retracted its proposal to hold talks with South Korea on restarting a family reunion program, agreeing to a South Korean plan to focus first on resuming production at Kaesong.

On the 10th, North Korea proposed separate working-level talks aimed at restarting Mt. Geumgang (also spelled, Kumgang) tours and resumption of separated family reunions. Mount Kumgang (translated: Diamond Mountain) is revered in South and North Korea. Tours have been suspended since 2008 because a North Korean soldier shot a South Korean tourist.

Reunions of families separated since the Korean War have been suspended since November 2010.

South Korea accepted the North's proposal for family reunions, but suggested that talks on the sightseeing tour to Mount Kumgang be postponed until the negotiations on resuming production at Kaesong are completed.

In a message conveyed through the border village of Panmunjom on Thursday, North Korea accepted the South Korean suggestion that both sides focus on the issue of Kaesong, according to the Unification Ministry which handles inter-Korean affairs.

Comment: The North proposed talks on almost all issues to jump start the cash flow from South Korea. True to form it is willing to accommodate almost any South Korean proposal so long as it leads to an early resumption of payments. Kaesong and the tours to Mount Kumgang are money makers for North Korea. The family reunions are not.

The international media coverage of today's transactions suggested the North was intransigent. The facts are that the North is conciliatory, responding positively to South Korean proposals, provided they lead towards cash flow payments.

Syria: Residents of Aleppo protested tactics by the Syrian rebels to cut off supplies for Syrian government forces. The rebel actions resulted in skyrocketing prices and severe shortages for the populations under their so-called control. The rebels resorted to firing over the heads of protesting crowds to disperse them, the same tactics the government uses.

Comment: Economic hardships and shortages of daily necessities drive people to protest regardless of the theology or ideology of those in control. The Syrian rebels are less capable of governing, even on a neighborhood level, than the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Egypt: The Muslim Brotherhood promised to continue peaceful demonstrations. It has called for large demonstrations after Friday prayers. The populace appears to be increasingly weary of the activism.

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