04/23/2004, 00.00
North Korea - China
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China promises Kim Jong-Il to send economic aid to North Korea

Some analysts say that the North Korean dictator's visit to China was aimed at obtaining aid for his starving country.

Rome (AsiaNews/Agencies) – North Korean president Kim Jong-Il was able to secure from China promises of economic aid during his "secret" and "unofficial" 3-day visit to his traditional and only ally, China.

Analysts say Kim's foremost objective was to ensure satisfying his desperate request for aid for a North Korea stricken by extreme poverty and hunger, while isolated from the rest of the world.

The trip has gathered the attention of the international community, who view it as an indication of a possible step ahead in resolving the nuclear crisis, thanks to China's important mediation in the international showdown. But it was said the nuclear issue was Kim's second priority.

Kong Quan, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said China has decided to offer aid to North Korea without however specifying what kind and how much, but most likely referring to food and energy needs.

"On the one hand, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has made achievements in its national construction process, but on the other, it has faced difficulties. So the Chinese people, from the standpoint of strengthening the traditional friendship between the two countries are giving some aid within our capability".

Immediately after Kim's departure from China on Apr. 23, the Chinese news service, Xinhua, reported that the North Korean leader was "satisfied" of the results he obtained. Yesterday the "dear leader" (a title he assumed after succeeding his father Kim Il Sung), has sent a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao, stating his visit was a "new milestone in relations [between the two countries]".   

The United States has conditioned their sending humanitarian relief on the dismantling of the country's nuclear program. Yet Pyongyang has said it will only make commitments to giving up its arms program after obtaining guarantees of security and economic subsidies from Washington.

According to the Japanese Kyodo press agency, Yang Jong-thae (director of the North Korean Foreign Ministry's American issues office) said the next 6 Nations talks for solving the nuclear crisis should take place at the end of June and that Pyongyang would continue to participate.  (MR)

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