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NKorea's Kim Vows To Pursue Six-Way Talks At Summit With Hu

by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Jan 19, 2006
Stalinist North Korea confirmed Wednesday that reclusive leader Kim Jong-Il paid a visit to China and said he had vowed to pursue nuclear disarmament talks during a summit with President Hu Jintao.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), reporting for the first time on the secrecy-shrouded visit, said Kim and Hu discussed the stalled six-nation talks on scrapping North Korea's nuclear weapons program, and agreed to push for "a negotiated peaceful solution to the issue."

The talks hosted by Beijing have been stalled since November by the North's demand that the United States lift financial sanctions imposed on it.

"He (Kim) pointed out that the DPRK (North Korea) would join Chinese comrades in the efforts to seek a way of overcoming the difficulties lying in the way of the six-party talks and steadily advance the talks," KCNA said.

In response, Hu reaffirmed China's support for the dialogue which also involves the United States, Russia, South Korea and Japan.

"He (Hu) pointed out that the Chinese side is ready to ... put spurs to the six-party talks so that they may make steady progress," the report said.

The sanctions were imposed in September after Washington said Pyongyang was manufacturing counterfeit US dollar notes and using a Macau bank as a front for money-laundering.

South Korea's foreign ministry said in a statement it hopes Kim's latest visit to China "would provide a good opportunity to help resolve North Korea's nuclear problem and make progress in six-way talks."

After a week-long Chinese media blackout, the state Xinhua news agency also confirmed Kim's January 10-18 visit, which brought him to the central province of Hubei and the booming southern province of Guangdong as well as Beijing.

During his tour of Wuhan, Yichang, Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Shenzhen, Kim visited "with great interest" enterprises and institutes in the fields of industry, agriculture, science and technology and education, Xinhua said.

"The progress made in the southern part of China which has undergone a rapid change and the stirring reality of China, in particular, deeply impressed us," Kim said in a speech at a dinner hosted by Hu, according to

Chinese state television showed Hu taking Kim on a tour of the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing where the two inspected seed samples -- possibly to help North Korea's farm sector end years of famine.

Kim, dressed in his trademark khaki jacket, fired questions at academy scientists as he was shown hybrid strains of wheat and cotton, TV showed.

At the Three Gorges Dam in Hubei Kim was seen wearing sunglasses as he viewed the huge spillway of the world's biggest hydroelectric project.

Kim also visited several factories in Shenzhen and Zhuhai in Guangdong, the factory floor of China's booming export economy. He was seen inspecting a container port and riding on a subway.

The North Korean leader, who is afraid of flying, headed home early Wednesday by special train, according to Japanese and South Korean reports.

Following years of starvation and the end of Soviet aid, North Korea introduced limited economic reforms in 2002, freeing prices, wages and exchange rates from central control.

It also eased government controls over businesses and individuals.

"China is arguing to North Korea that if they can solve the nuclear problem first, then a lot of things will flow from that," Brian Bridges, an expert on North Korea at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, told AFP.

Stephen Noerper, a Northeast Asia expert from the University of New York, said Kim was also likely making a statement that he had a friend in China, one of his few international allies.

This was especially important for North Korea as it struggled against the United States in the six-party talks.

While China would have wanted to emphasize the importance of the six-party forum, Bridges said Kim would have been most interested in what further economic benefits, ideas and deals he could extract from China.

"For Kim, he wants to reconfirm the continuation of food and energy aid and another major objective is to seek out Chinese investment to North Korea."

This would explain Kim's visit to Guangdong, where China's 20 years of robust economic growth started, Bridges said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Beijing (AFP) Jan 19, 2006
North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong-Il received a red carpet welcome during an eight-day China visit, meeting top leaders, touring booming Guangdong province and visiting the Three Gorges Dam.

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