North sends Kim Yong-nam to ‘anti-bloc’ summit

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North sends Kim Yong-nam to ‘anti-bloc’ summit

Kim Yong-nam, president of North Korea’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, will attend the 16th summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran at the end of August, which local Iranian press misreported as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s visit.

“As far as we know at the moment, it’s not true [that North Korean leader Kim will attend the summit],” a South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade official told reporters yesterday.

“We assumed that Iranian press misunderstood the statement given by the spokeswoman for NAM.”

The semi-official Fars News Agency reported that Mohammad Reza Forqani, the spokesman of the NAM summit, said yesterday that Kim Jong-un will “make his first foreign visit to Tehran to participate in the NAM summit next week.”

But that news was erroneous, another South Korean Foreign Ministry official confirmed.

“The Iranian Foreign Ministry told us that there’s no mention of Kim Jong-un on the list of attendees at the summit, but only Kim Yong-nam,” the official said. “The NAM spokeswoman just told reporters that ‘North Korea’s head of state’ will attend the summit.

“We assume that local Iranian press misunderstood it and put the name of Kim Jong-un in the article,” the official added.

Since 2000, the regime has sent Kim Yong-nam to the summit. He attended summits in Malaysia in 2003, Cuba in 2006 and Egypt in 2009, as the representative of North Korea.

Under North Korea’s constitution, the president of the Supreme People’s Assembly responds to any invitation or credentials sent from foreign diplomats or organizations as representative of the regime. A string of foreign delegates who visited Pyongyang previously met with Kim Yong-nam before they were greeted by former leader Kim Jong-il.

The summit, created in 1961 in Belgrade, Serbia, as a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc, is composed of 120 member countries and 21 other observers.

This year, Iran will hold the three-year-long rotating presidency succeeded from Egypt. Diplomats from roughly 40 countries worldwide are scheduled to attend the summit, slated between this Sunday and Thursday.

Pyongyang has supported the so-called “anti-bloc” movement since the rule of founder Kim Il Sung, to protest any major superpowers including the United States.

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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