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North Korea-Panama:Update. Last week, the Canal Authority fined the owners of the North Korean cargo ship up to $1 million for failing to disclose the cargo accurately and for putting the canal and canal workers at risk. The owners of the ship must also pay a $650,000 bond before it is allowed to leave the canal, according to the head of the Authority.

The amount is a proposed sanction of up to $1 million and may be challenged or clarified.

Comment:The ship probably is not worth the amount of the fine. The North Korean crew is living better in a Panamanian lock-up than the men lived aboard the ship. This issue is essentially closed, except for the crew and cargo. No news service has reported on the eventual disposition of either.

India-Pakistan:For the record.Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif met in New York on the 29th. Shivshankar Menon, Indian national security affairs adviser, said that the talks were useful and constructive and that both sides agreed on the need to promote the realization of a complete ceasefire in Kashmir and accepted invitations to visit each other's country.

Comment:Although meetings at the UN General Assembly session are mostly symbolic, they become substantive when they do not take place. The reciprocal invitations stake out a way ahead for more substantive exchanges.

The fundamental obstacle to a durable peace is Kashmir. Pakistani governments must at least pay lip service to Kashmiri independence in some form in order to mollify powerful security and political interests. India cannot alter the status of Jammu and Kashmir State without amending its constitution, wherein the state is listed as one of the constituent Indian states.

There is little room for compromise except to agree to combat terrorism, maintain trade and a ceasefire along the Line of Control and the borders and not permit provocations to escalate. Yet there are hotheads on both sides that do and will violently oppose peace.

Syria:Update.Twenty chemical weapons inspectors arrived in Beirut on 30 September en route Damascus. They are an advance team from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons who will plan and prepare for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons. Work begins on 1 October.

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