South Korea-North Korea: South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Monday proposed a new round of reunions for families divided since the Korean War. Ms. Park called her offer a humanitarian first step to build trust.
North Korea didn't immediately respond to Park's statement, which came during a nationally televised news conference.
Comment: The South's gestures to build confidence with the North stem mostly from South Korean internal politics. No South Korean politician can be seen as opposed to North-South confidence-building or reconciliation.
In the North, no confidence building initiative or reconciliation gesture can be seen to originate in South Korea. Thus the cycle repeats. Offer meets rejection followed by counter offer or bellicose bluster, depending on the stability of the leadership in the North.
Thus this offer is best understood as a probe for evaluating the confidence of the Kim Jong Un regime. The NightWatch understanding of the Kim Jong Un regime suggests that it will reject the South's offer.
Whatever the North decides will provide valuable insights about the leadership in Pyongyang. At this point, the North does not behave as if it is ready to accept and act on new initiatives with the South, initiated by the South.
North Korea: Kim Jong Un's aunt, the wife of Chang Sung-taek who was purged and executed last month, has either died of a heart attack or committed suicide, according to an unconfirmed press report.
Kim Kyong-hui, previously a leading figure in the regime, is believed to have been ill for several years and was reportedly treated for cancer and travelled to Russia last month for a heart complaint.
Comment: This is a single-source report that is unconfirmed. If it is accurate, then Kim Jong Un has no family guardians whomay be traced to the will of his father, Kim Chong-il.
He has extensive family responsibilities as head of the Kim clan in the North. However, he can pursue his pet projects without reminders or reprimands from his family elders, all of whom are dead, if this report is accurate.
Iraq: Prime Minister al-Maliki urged residents and tribes of Fallujah to 'expel' al-Qaida militants from the Sunni-dominated city to avoid an all-out battle. Multiple news outlets have reported that the government is planning a major ground and air attack against Fallujah if the residents and tribes fail to oust the al Qaida militants.
New Time 11:20 AM PT: Get the Market Movements in Advance: William's Edge Webinar for Thursday April 17th, 2014 | John Ransom
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