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Kim visit a sign of North, China tightening ties

Mar 03,2008
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, second from left, greets Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming as he visits the Chinese Embassy in Pyongyang on Saturday. [YONHAP]
The Lee Myung-bak administration’s policy of reinforcing Seoul’s alliance with Washington and expected changes in its North Korea policy appear to have prompted Pyongyang to bolster its alliance with Beijing over the weekend.
Kim Jong-il, the North’s leader, revealed a sign of the new goal when he paid a visit to the Chinese Embassy in Pyongyang Saturday to highlight the friendship between the two communist allies. Key aides, including General Kim Kyok-sik, chief of the general staff of the military, and First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju, accompanied Kim.
During his meeting with Chinese Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, Kim sent a greeting to his Chinese counterpart, President Hu Jintao.
Kim’s visit to the embassy is his fourth since 2000. Kim’s visits in 2000 and 2001 led to his visit to China, which former Chinese President Jiang Zemin followed with a visit to Pyongyang.
In his meeting with visiting Chinese envoy Wang Jiarui last month, Kim was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying that “the North will never break faith with China.”
“North Korea has no choice but to reinforce its ties with China to avoid diplomatic isolation,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies, “in case inter-Korean relations freeze and the trilateral cooperation among South Korea, Japan and the United States becomes stronger under the Lee administration.
“It also has to step closer to making China a patron to provide rice and other aid on behalf of South Korea.”
Pyongyang also voiced anger yesterday as the United States and South Korea kicked off a massive joint military drill. The week-long “Key Resolve” exercise involves a large portion of South Korea’s 650,000-strong military and some 27,000 U.S. soldiers, about 15,000 of whom came from outside Korea, the two countries’ militaries said.
The North’s military reacted sensitively, warning of retaliation against what it calls “an open and blatant challenge” to the six-nation talks aimed at ending Pyongyang’s nuclear arms program.
In a statement broadcast by the government’s Korean Central News Agency yesterday, a spokesman of the North’s Korean People’s Army claimed that the drill aims to crush the North to death in a war. Seoul and Washington have said the drill is a defense-oriented exercise.


By Ser Myo-ja Staff Reporter/ Chae Byung-gun JoongAng Ilbo [myoja@joongang.co.kr]



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