American in North Korea sentenced to 15 years of hard labour for alleged "crimes against the state"; China warns US not to meddle in territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo; Syrian opposition denounces Hezbollah threat; Cuba to stay on US list of countries that sponsor terrorism; and more
Top of the Agenda: North Korea Sentences U.S. Citizen
North Korea on Thursday sentenced U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae to fifteen years of hard labor (Reuters) for what it said were crimes against the state--a move that complicates already tense relations between Washington and Pyongyang and could lead to a diplomatic standoff. The forty-four-year-old Bae was born in South Korea but is a naturalized U.S. citizen, and had been part of a group of five tourists who visited the northeastern North Korean city of Rajin in November (AP). His sentencing comes after two months of nuclear war threats directed at the United States and South Korea by Pyongyang.
"With the end of the drills, analysts have said, North Korea might tone down its bellicosity and shift its focus toward drawing Washington back to the negotiating table — using, among other things, the plight of Mr. Bae as bait," writes Choe Sang-Hun for the New York Times.
"Acting as a private citizen, [former President Jimmy] Carter in 2010 flew to Pyongyang to secure the release of Aijalon Gomes, who'd been sentenced to eight years of hard labor after illegally entering the country. But Bae's sentence is slightly harsher than others issued to recent American detainees — all of whom were ultimately deported or granted amnesty," writes Chico Harlan for the Washington Post.
"Pyongyang has a track record of detaining U.S. citizens for alleged wrongdoing, handing down often-harsh court rulings against them, and eventually releasing them, sometimes after visits by high-profile American figures," writes Kwanwoo Jun for the Wall Street Journal.
Chinese Ambassador Warns U.S.
Cui Tiankai, China's new ambassador to the United States, warned Washington not to meddle in the territorial dispute (SCMP) over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands between Beijing and Tokyo. The statement marked the first direct remarks on the issue since his appointment last month.
Syrian opposition denounces Hezbollah "threat"
Cuba to remain on list of nations that sponsor terrorism
This is an excerpt of the CFR.org Daily News Brief. The full version is available on CFR.org.