News Update: Korea Tension Flares, Lebanon Violence, Stock Markets Fall, and More


Koreas talk

South Korea’s military on Monday said North Korea continued to prepare for war, moving unusual numbers of troops and submarines to the border. Meanwhile, marathon negotiations between senior officials from the Koreas stretched into a third day. A South Korean Defense Ministry Spokesman said about 70 percent of the North’s submarines and undersea vehicles had left their bases and were undetectable by the South Korean military as of Saturday. He added that the North had doubled the strength of its front-line artillery forces since talks began Saturday evening. Officials described a “tense” mood but refused to provide details of the talks. At issue is a South Korean demand that the North apologize for what Seoul says was a land-mine attack that maimed two South Korean soldiers and was followed by an artillery barrage last week. North Korea denies both attacks and demands that Seoul stop anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts started in retaliation for the land-mine explosions. These are the highest-level talks between the two Koreas in a year.

Lebanon violence

Lebanese Army troops and armored personnel carriers were deployed on the streets of Beirut on Sunday as fighting between police and protesters continued for a second night. The demonstrators were rallying over government corruption and an ongoing rubbish crisis. At least 44 people and 30 police officers were wounded in the violence. Roads were strewn with debris including empty tear gas canisters and firefighters could be seen hosing down buildings that had been set alight. The violence came hours after the Lebanese prime minister hinted he might step down following violent protests on Saturday that injured more than 100 people. The demonstrations, the largest in years to shake tiny Lebanon, seek to upend what protesters see as a corrupt and dysfunctional political system that has no functional Cabinet or parliament, nor a president for more than a year—and has failed to collect the nation’s rubbish.

Yemen rejects ceasefire

Yemen’s Houthi leaders and political allies rejected a ceasefire agreement proposed by the Yemeni president on Sunday, calling it a Saudi-designed plan to force them to surrender. The proposal, dated Thursday, called for the Houthi rebels and allied troops to immediately implement a United Nations Security Council resolution that demands an end to violence and a swift return to UN-led peace talks. The proposal came after pro-government troops, backed by a Saudi-led coalition carrying out airstrikes, regained strategic ground from the rebels, including the southern port of Aden. They now push north toward the capital, Sanaa.

Stock markets fall

Asia’s gloom on Monday spread to European markets, which opened with Germany’s dax falling 2.5 percent. Stocks also tumbled elsewhere as China’s main index sank 8.5 percent in tumultuous trading spurred by deepening fears over the slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy. China’s dimming outlook is provoking calls for more economic stimulus from Beijing, though earlier government efforts to stop the hemorrhage appear to have done little to stabilize markets.

Macedonia migrant crisis

Thousands of beleaguered migrants—mostly Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans fleeing bloody conflicts—crammed into trains and buses in Macedonia that brought them one step closer to the European Union on Sunday. On Saturday, they stormed past police trying to block them from entering Macedonia from Greece. On Sunday, the migrants—many with children and babies—boarded trains and buses that took them to the border with Serbia before heading farther north toward EU member Hungary. A razor-wire fence was being built in Hungary on its frontier to prevent migrants from entering. If they manage to enter Hungary, the migrants could travel freely across the borders of most of the 28 EU member states.

Britain reopens embassy

Britain reopened its embassy in Tehran on Sunday after four years of closure following British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond’s visit in Iran and meeting with his Iranian counterpart. Both sides said that the reopening is of great significance in improving the bilateral relations. Meanwhile, the embassy of Iran in London also reopened on Sunday, which was also closed in November 2011.