Archive for January 4, 2012
Senior US diplomat Kurt Campbell arrived in Beijing to discuss North Korea after the death of Kim Jong-Il, a US embassy spokesman said. Campbell, the assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, is the first US diplomat to visit North Korea’s closest ally since the leader of the Stalinist state died from a heart attack on December 17. Kim’s death has sparked concerns over the stability of the isolated, nuclear-armed nation, where famine killed hundreds of thousands in the 1990s and where severe food shortages persist. A spokesman for the US embassy in Beijing told AFP Campbell had arrived on Tuesday evening. He said Campbell would meet senior officials on Wednesday “to discuss a range of important bilateral, regional, and global issues, including the latest developments related to North Korea and Burma.” China is a key ally of Burma, which has made tentative steps at reform by opening talks with the opposition and ethnic minorities. But the future of North Korea is likely to dominate Campbell’s trip, which will also take him to South Korea and Japan before he returns to Washington on Saturday. In the hours after the announcement of Kim’s death on December 19, China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi held phone talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the importance of ensuring security on the Korean peninsula.
Australian police arrested a man accused of robbing a Sydney bar and then fleeing to the grounds of the Chinese consulate, sparking a tense manhunt. Mark Murdoch, New South Wales police assistant commissioner, said police were chasing the man when he scaled the fence surrounding the nearby consulate grounds. Murdoch said the man and police traded gunfire, but no one was hit. Police shut down roads around the consulate and secured the complex. They finally found the man in a building outside the consulate grounds after a six-hour siege. He was arrested. Police also arrested the man’s alleged accomplice outside the bar. Officials did not release the men’s names. Murdoch said the man’s decision to flee to the consulate grounds was random. Residents of Sydney’s Camperdown were awakened about 2am to the sound of gunfire. Federal police were immediately notified due to the national security breach and the area, near the University of Sydney, was quickly transformed into a tightly locked militarized zone. Liu Kan, Chinese Deputy Consul-General in Sydney, told Xinhua news agency that the Chinese side gave a nod to local police’s request to search for the suspect in the consulate compound in which only some bloodstains allegedly left by the robber were found. He confirmed that gunshots were fired. The special response unit and a highly-trained dog squad were called in to the scene and ambulances were reported ferrying in and out of the area. However, aside from the suspect who sustained minor cuts and was taken into custody, there were no reports of injuries.