North Korea: The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published a report concerning the notice that the Central Committee of the DPRK Red Cross Society sent to the South Korean Red Cross on Friday proposing a resumption of family reunions during the Lunar New Year celebration.
"The notice said: The crucial proposal and open letter of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK to terminate the evermore escalating distrust and confrontation between the north and the south and pave a wide avenue for improving the inter-Korean relations are now positively supported and approved by all Koreans who aspire after the nation's reconciliation and unity and the country's reunification."
"The open letter sent to the south Korean authorities by the NDC of the DPRK in the wake of the crucial proposal made to them on January 16 fully reflects the patriotic decision and noble sense of responsibility of the supreme leadership of the DPRK to put an end to the history of the territorial partition and national split in view of the hard reality to which the Korean nation can no longer remain a passive on-looker and open a fresh phase of national reunification."
The Central Committee of the DPRK Red Cross Society proposed the south side to arrange the reunion of separated families and their relatives from the north and the south with the Lunar New Year's Day as an occasion, prompted by the single desire to open a way of improving the relations between the north and the south in practice as desired and wished by all Koreans at home and abroad…."
"The reunion may take place at Mt. Kumgang Resort as had already been agreed upon between the north-south Red Cross organizations and it is better to fix the date of the event as the south side deems it convenient at the time when cold weather turns warm after the Lunar New Year's Day, taking the time required for arranging it into consideration, the notice pointed out."
"As for other matters, they can be discussed and settled through the Panmunjom Red Cross hotline, the notice said, adding that the north side would look forward to a positive answer from the south side."
Comment: The North's proposal leaves less than week to prepare for the reunions if any are to occur on 31 January, the lunar new year. The proposal is vague on the exact timing of the reunions, suggesting warm weather after 31 January.
Apparently reunions that were prepared but halted last year are to be given priority.
The North's usual intent in such proposals is to drive a wedge between the Seoul government and the people and between South Korea and the Allies. The timing of this fits the recent pattern of reconciliation overtures, but it seems to validate the policy of South Korean President Park.
Another irony is that these are the kinds of actions that the late Chang Sung-taek advocated. South Korea will pay hard currency for the reunions.
The proposal is fragile because in a separate message North Korea warned the South against holding annual Allied exercises on the Korean peninsula. The National Defense Commission statement made it clear that such exercises would show bad faith. The North again urged the Allies to conduct such exercises in the US, or anywhere but the Korean Peninsula.
Pakistan: Update. The treason trial of the former president Musharraf has been delayed again after the special court adjourned to consider his medical report. Lawyers representing Musharraf handed the report to the judges on Friday, 24 January. Justice Faisal Arab, who leads the three-man panel, said the court would retire until Wednesday to review the information.
Defense lawyers also said on Friday that Musharraf wants to go abroad to undergo medical treatment for a heart condition.
Comment: Today's medical report is the second supplied by the military hospital treating Musharraf. Musharraf's defense strategy is to leave Pakistan for medical reasons with court approval. He could easily leave smuggled in a military aircraft, but he wants to leave with dignity, insisting he is innocent.
His departure under any conditions probably is the best outcome for internal stability, but not for the rule of law or the ends of justice.
Egypt: Four bombings took place in and around Cairo on Friday, including a car bomb at the main police headquarters which damaged a nearby museum. The Health Ministry announced that 18 people died and at least 70 and possibly over a100 people were injured. The Ministry blamed the attacks on the Muslim Brotherhood.
Comment: The bombings commemorated the third anniversary of the overthrow of former President Mubarak. They constitute a security lapse, but it is nearly impossible to maintain security considering that the Islamists and jihadists have many sympathizers in the urban and rural population.
The terrorists like to celebrate anniversaries. Thus, it is premature to draw conclusions about insurgency or security trends in Cairo, based on these attacks.
Central African Republic: Update. Heavy gunfire erupted in Bangui after Christian militias allegedly assassinated a prominent Muslim former government minister. Rwandan peacekeepers backed by French forces later came to the scene and began firing their weapons.
According to Ahmadou Tidjani Moussa Naibi, the imam at Central Mosque, "The imams announced that, starting today (Friday), they will let their followers decide themselves which reactions they deem most appropriate to this new provocation."
Comment: The election of a new transitional president has had little effect in calming the sectarian tension. The peacekeeping mission is not keeping the peace. There will be more bloodletting.
End of NightWatch ###
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