The timing is widely interpreted in South Korea as a dividend of Chinese pressure to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula – and the meeting this week between President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao.
South Korea’s main concern appears to be that Obama does not acquiesce to Hu’s call for six-party talks without the South’s full agreement – and without concessions on the part of North Korea.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in Seoul Friday for a meeting with South Korean President Lee, who stressed the need for US cooperation to solve the North Korean nuclear issue.
An Indian boy holds up his national flag before his team's AFC Asian Cup Group C soccer match against Australia at Al Saad Stadium, in Doha, Qatar.
If signed, two proposed military cooperation agreements to deal with North Korea would be the first such agreements between the two nations since Japan’s occupation of Korea in the early 20th century.
US envoy Stephen Bosworth arrives in Tokyo Thursday after visiting Seoul and Beijing. Implicit in his talks is a push for Japan and South Korea to cooperate for mutual defense against North Korea.
South Korea says the buildup of special forces represents a shift in North Korea’s emphasis from all-out war to military provocation.
Analysts in South Korea believe President Lee’s surprise call for six-party talks will bring the parties to the table since China and North Korea have both been calling in recent weeks for resumption of talks.
A US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III aircraft drops humanitarian aid into Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and surrounding areas on Jan. 18. The US military was conducting humanitarian and disaster relief operations as part of Operation Unified Response after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the country on Jan. 12.
South Korea's statement that it intends this year to begin preparations to reunify the Koreas will likely irk China and the North, which could consider it a provocation.