north korea

It was one of the biggest-ever gatherings of cabinet-level American officials in China. Some 200 Americans, including the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and the treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, took part in the “Strategic and Economic Dialogue” on May 24th and 25th. The dialogue was launched in Washington last July as an annual chance to ensure that the wide range of bureaucracies involved in the relationship work in harmony.

The Obama administration expects China to join in the international criticism of North Korea for the sinking of a South Korean warship. After U.S.-China discussions this week in Beijing, senior American officials say China will carefully move closer to South Korea's position that the North must be held accountable for the torpedo attack in March.

Yes, the US has condemned North Korea over its alleged sinking of a South Korean warship in which 46 seamen were killed...But in light of what North Korea is accused of – an act of war – the US response is strangely and uncharacteristically subdued.

South Korea President Lee Myung-bak issued a strongly worded declaration Monday of retaliatory measures against North Korea for torpedoing the navy ship Cheonan. The question now: How will North Korea respond?

"To release the outcome of the investigation is easy," says Kim Tae-woo, senior North Korea analyst at the Korea Institute. "What to do after that is the most difficult part." Seoul is now likely to seek international action, perhaps by asking for tougher sanctions on North Korea from the United Nations Security Council.

Kim Jong Il's recent visit to China was a gentle reminder that the road to Pyongyang leads through Beijing. China is the only power that has remained engaged with North Korea, through many ups and downs, whereas Russia, Japan, the United States and South Korea have all come and gone.

Two baby elephants intended as a gift to North Korea are unlikely to survive the journey by air, Zimbabwean conservationists said Thursday...The independent Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said the 18-month-old elephants were being held in pens in the western Hwange National Park, along with pairs of most of the park's other animal species bound for North Korea.

If suspicions are proven correct, there are few good policy options available for a response. There is no sense in South Korea retaliating with military force since the costs far outweigh the possible benefits.

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