Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
China Confirms Visit by North Korean Leader
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao confirmed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il had made a rare visit to his country for the purpose of studying Beijing's economic development models, the Associated Press reported on Monday (see GSN, May 20).
Wen confirmed the visit during talks in Japan with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.
"We invited (Kim) to give (the North Koreans) a chance to understand the Chinese development and use it for their own development," Wen was quoted by Lee's office to have said.
Kim's most recent visit is his third trip to China in the last year, which is not typical for the reclusive dictator. His trip underlines the urgency the North Korean regime feels to ensure the alliance with China, its chief economic benefactor and foreign defender, remains strong.
North Korea is in the midst of another famine and has made multiple requests abroad for food aid. The Stalinist state is also widely seen to be in the middle of a transfer of power from Kim to his youngest son, Kim Jong Un (Joe McDonald, Associated Press/Time, May 23).
Meanwhile, the White House on Friday indicated that the North is likely to figure high on President Obama's list of topics to discuss with leaders of other top industrialized nations at this week's Group of Eight summit in France, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
"The G-8 leaders will talk about a range of political and security issues," deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters. "Traditionally this has included everything from nonproliferation, North Korea, Iran, terrorism, drug trafficking, piracy."
Multinational negotiations focused on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons work have been at a standstill since December 2008. Pyongyang has voiced interest in returning to the six-party process, but Japan, South Korea and the United States have balked at resuming aid-for-denuclearization talks until inter-Korean relations have improved and the North has demonstrated its commitment to permanent nuclear disarmament.
China has advocated a step-by-step process for restarting the six-nation effort that focuses first on South-North nuclear discussions followed by U.S.-North Korea talks that would later be expanded to include China, Japan and Russia (Hwang Doo-hyong, Yonhap News Agency, May 20).
Separately, the U.S. State Department on Friday announced it was this week dispatching special envoy for North Korean human rights Robert King and a senior U.S. Agency for International Development official for a formal trip to North Korea that would focus on assessing food scarcity in the country (U.S. State Department release, May 20).
Elsewhere, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Joseph Yun last week voiced administration concerns about Myanmar's military dealings North Korea, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, April 12).
The senior U.S. diplomat, during a trip to the Southeast Asian state, "conveyed U.S. concerns about Burma's military relationship with North Korea and called on the government to abide by its public commitments to uphold U.N. Security Council resolutions [that prohibit nuclear or missile commerce with the North] in that regard," a Friday statement from the U.S. Embassy in Yangon said (Agence France-Presse/Yahoo!News, May 20).
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A new brochure describes the origins and the work of the Nuclear Security Project.
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