10/23/2013, 00.00
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The strange alliance between Mongolia and North Korea goes on stage in Pyongyang

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhiagiin is the first head of state to meet North Korea's young dictator Kim Jong-un. Bilateral relations and the employment of North Korean workers in Mongolian mines are on the table. Tokyo blocks a Mongolian company from buying the Japanese headquarters of North Korea's Workers' Party.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - Mongolian President Elbegdorj Tsakhiagiin will be the first head of state or government to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, in power since December 2011.

According to Mongolian government sources, the Mongolian leader will travel to Pyongyang next Monday to mark the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Although not yet confirmed, the visit is expected to include extensive discussions on how to boost relations between the two nations.

Increasingly isolated from the international community because of its nuclear tests and military provocations, North Korea is looking for new allies. Mongolia, a former Communist country, seems willing to act as a privileged partner.

At the beginning of 2012, Pyongyang sought and received food aid from Mongolia.

Japan and North Korea also had high-level talks in the Mongolian capital about the issue of North Korea's abduction of Japanese nationals.

A company apparently owned by a Mongolian tycoon has tried to buy the building where the headquarters of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) is located.

The building also hosts the local branch of North Korea's Workers' Party, which acts as Pyongyang's de facto embassy in Tokyo since the two governments do not have diplomatic relations.

Japan's Supreme Court, which had ordered the building seized in 2012 for unpaid debts, put it up for sale in a public auction. Avar Limited Liability Co. (thought to be a Mongolian company) won the bid, but a civil court postponed the actual sale until further investigations are completed.

According to some South Korean analysts, this is indicative of Mongolia's desire to be a stable partner with North Korea.

Some sources have also suggested that the two governments might soon sign an agreement to employ North Korean workers in Mongolian mines, which are underexploited because of labour shortages in the land-locked nation.

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