Kim Jong-il completes his trip to Russia and China

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Kim Jong-il completes his trip to Russia and China

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il returned to Pyongyang on Saturday after wrapping up a “successful” week-long visit to the North’s two closest allies Russia and China, the North’s state media reported yesterday.

The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il’s youngest son and heir-apparent, welcomed his father at a railway station bordering China. Kim Kyong-hui, Kim Jong-il’s younger sister, was also among the reception party.

During his first trip to Russia since 2002, and the ensuing visit to China, Kim called for the early resumption of multinational talks aimed at trading aid for denuclearization.

Pyongyang hopes to return to the six-party talks before next year as it has targeted 2012 as the year in which it will become powerful and prosperous.
The 69-year-old ailing leader also agreed to expand cooperation with Russia on business deals including a project to build a pipe sending Russian gas to South Korea.

On his return, Kim praised China’s economic development after touring an industrial complex in the northeastern part of the country.

This was interpreted as a calculating move to mollify Beijing after his bridge-building trip to Russia, which included a summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the east Siberian city of Ulan-Ude on Wednesday.

But it was also taken as a signal to the North Korean people that their leadership is committed to economic prosperity.

“While passing through China’s northeastern area, where unforgettable memories dwell, we got to observe [the] enormous vitality of the policies of the Communist Party of China, and could sense the value of the traditional DPRK-China friendship more,” Kim said in a note to Chinese leader Hu Jintao, the KCNA reported.

Kim arrived at the Chinese border city of Manzhouli on Thursday, where he was greeted by Chinese Communist Party envoy Wang Jiarui at the start of his three-day trip.

This was followed on Friday by a meeting with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo in Daqing, home to China’s largest oil field, after Kim toured industrial sites there. China’s state media reported that Kim confirmed to Dai that he was now ready to put a moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, as Russia had claimed he said days earlier.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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