North sends bigwigs to Beijing and Moscow

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North sends bigwigs to Beijing and Moscow

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Kim Kye-gwan


High-ranking North Korean officials visited Beijing and Russia on Tuesday as the regime comes under increasing pressure from the international community to resume denuclearization talks.

Kim Song-nam, vice director of the Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, departed for Beijing from Pyongyang on Tuesday, while Kim Kye-gwan, first vice-minister of foreign affairs of North Korea, left for Russia on the same day, the North’s official outlet of Korean Central News Agency reported on Tuesday.

The KCNA didn’t elaborate on the purpose or schedules of their visits.

The diplomacy followed the recent four-day trip of South Korean President Park Geun-hye to Beijing in which she successfully reached an agreement with China to up the rhetoric regarding the need for North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program.

A diplomatic source in Beijing told the JoongAng Ilbo exclusively on Tuesday that First Vice Foreign Minister Kim also stopped by China before flying on to Russia.

“First Vice Foreign Minister Kim visited Beijing on his way to Russia,” the source said. “There is a possibility that he could discuss resumption of the six-party talks with Chinese officials.

“The visit of Vice Director Kim Song-nam appears to be aimed at strengthening ties with the Communist Party of China and seeking information on the outcome of the recent South Korea-China summit.”

It’s been only 12 days since First Vice Foreign Minister Kim returned from a five-day trip to China from June 18-22, during which he was spotted by South Korean reporters.

Vice director Kim also visited Beijing in May, when he accompanied Choe Ryong-hae, the director of the General Political Bureau of the North Korean army, who met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

For this trip, the director led his own delegation separate from that of the first vice foreign minister, the source said.

“Officials from the China’s Communist Party’s public affairs department greeted the delegation of First Vice Director Kim at the airport [in Beijing],” the source said. “This means the two allies restarted their party-level talks and made a shift to a full-scale dialogue phase.”

“China is highly likely to urge Pyongyang to comply with President Park’s ‘trust-building process’ and accept inter-Korean talks,” the source said.

Since North Korea’s defiant launch of a long-range rocket in December 2012, which drew a fresh round of sanctions against the regime, China has kept its distance from its longtime communist ally and suspended all kinds of party-to-party, senior-level dialogues with Pyongyang.

“Given the fact that First Vice Foreign Minister Kim was greeted by North Korean officials working at the North Korean embassy in Beijing, his purpose is simply to be briefed on the results of the Seoul-Beijing summit at the North Korean embassy,” another diplomatic source told the JoongAng Ilbo. “After that, he could immediately fly to Russia.”

Vice Minister Kim, a top nuclear negotiator from North Korea, met with his counterpart Wang Jiarui and State Councillor Yang Jiechi during his visit to Beijing last month and reportedly expressed his willingness to resolve the matter of North Korea’s nuclear armament through any kind of dialogue.



BY KIM HEE-JIN, CHOI HYUNG-KYU [heejin@joongang.co.kr]


High-ranking North Korean officials visited Beijing and Russia on Tuesday as the regime comes under increasing pressure from the international community to resume denuclearization talks.

Kim Song-nam, vice director of the Workers’ Party’s Central Committee, departed for Beijing from Pyongyang on Tuesday, while Kim Kye-gwan, first vice-minister of foreign affairs of North Korea, left for Russia on the same day, the North’s official outlet of Korean Central News Agency reported on Tuesday.

The KCNA didn’t elaborate on the purpose or schedules of their visits.

The diplomacy followed the recent four-day trip of South Korean President Park Geun-hye to Beijing in which she successfully reached an agreement with China to up the rhetoric regarding the need for North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program.

A diplomatic source in Beijing told the JoongAng Ilbo exclusively on Tuesday that First Vice Foreign Minister Kim also stopped by China before flying on to Russia.

“First Vice Foreign Minister Kim visited Beijing on his way to Russia,” the source said. “There is a possibility that he could discuss resumption of the six-party talks with Chinese officials.

“The visit of Vice Director Kim Song-nam appears to be aimed at strengthening ties with the Communist Party of China and seeking information on the outcome of the recent South Korea-China summit.”

It’s been only 12 days since First Vice Foreign Minister Kim returned from a five-day trip to China from June 18-22, during which he was spotted by South Korean reporters.

Vice director Kim also visited Beijing in May, when he accompanied Choe Ryong-hae, the director of the General Political Bureau of the North Korean army, who met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

For this trip, the director led his own delegation separate from that of the first vice foreign minister, the source said.

“Officials from the China’s Communist Party’s public affairs department greeted the delegation of First Vice Director Kim at the airport [in Beijing],” the source said. “This means the two allies restarted their party-level talks and made a shift to a full-scale dialogue phase.”

“China is highly likely to urge Pyongyang to comply with President Park’s ‘trust-building process’ and accept inter-Korean talks,” the source said.

Since North Korea’s defiant launch of a long-range rocket in December 2012, which drew a fresh round of sanctions against the regime, China has kept its distance from its longtime communist ally and suspended all kinds of party-to-party, senior-level dialogues with Pyongyang.

“Given the fact that First Vice Foreign Minister Kim was greeted by North Korean officials working at the North Korean embassy in Beijing, his purpose is simply to be briefed on the results of the Seoul-Beijing summit at the North Korean embassy,” another diplomatic source told the JoongAng Ilbo. “After that, he could immediately fly to Russia.”

Vice Minister Kim, a top nuclear negotiator from North Korea, met with his counterpart Wang Jiarui and State Councillor Yang Jiechi during his visit to Beijing last month and reportedly expressed his willingness to resolve the matter of North Korea’s nuclear armament through any kind of dialogue.



BY KIM HEE-JIN, CHOI HYUNG-KYU [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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