World News Brief, Wednesday November 11

Military tension between North and South Korea intensifies; analysts say North Korea provoked the clash; Obama administration promotes US military bases pact with Japan; Palestinian Authority could collapse; Maoist activists protest in Nepal; Democrats question healthcare reform costs in US; and more

Top of the Agenda: North and South Korea Exchange Fire

North and South Korean navy ships exchanged fire (NYT) in disputed waters west of the Korean peninsula, suggesting heightened military tensions in the region ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Asia this week. The skirmish left one North Korean vessel engulfed in flames, according to South Korean officials.

The crossfire was the first border fighting between North and South Korea in seven years. South Korean officials say a North Korean vessel crossed the Northern Limit Line, a sea border delineated by the United Nations at the end of the Korean War, which North Korea has never accepted. South Korea says it issued five warning broadcasts before firing warning shots.

North Korea says the clash occurred during a patrol boat's routine duty and demanded an apology (Yonhap) from South Korea.

Separately, the United States said Tuesday that it will likely send an envoy (AFP) to North Korea to jumpstart talks on dismantling the country's nuclear program.


South Korean analysts say North Korea provoked the clash (NYT) to emphasize its interest in negotiating a peace treaty to officially end the Korean War before engaging in negotiations to end its nuclear weapons program.

In a CFR interview, Michael Green says the Obama administration is taking a cautious approach to bilateral talks on North Korea's denuclearization, noting Pyongyang's backsliding after the Bush administration adopted a softer tone.

In a GlobalSecurity op-ed, Scott A. Snyder advocates the need for more effective regional coordination on contingency planning for North Korean instability.

PACIFIC RIM: U.S.-Japan Military Cooperation

The Obama administration says a U.S. military bases pact with Japan, which is being reviewed by Tokyo's new government, is in Japan's best interests (SCMP) and will continue.


-Warning signs of Palestinian Authority's potential collapse.
-Maoist activists protest in Nepal.
-U.S. Democrats raise concerns over costs of healthcare reform bills.

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