Tags: kim | korea | visit | resolve

NKorea's Kim Visit Tests China Resolve

Monday, 03 May 2010 09:09 AM EDT

SEOUL - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's China visit has been long anticipated since his reclusive state withdrew from the six-nation denuclearization talks in April last year, in response to U.N. sanctions over its missile and nuclear tests.

Then why now? And what will be the topics of discussion at his private summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao, which is expected to take place this week in Beijing?

The trip came at a sensitive time while South Korea is working together with the United States, Australia and Sweden to find the exact cause of the sinking of the Navy vessel Cheonan near the western inter-Korean sea border, which claimed the lives of 46 sailors.

As North Korea is the prime suspect in the biggest naval disaster during peacetime on the Korean Peninsula, the summit may focus on deterring South Korea's response to seek international retaliation — militarily or diplomatically — to the much-speculated act of aggression.

Last week, Chinese President Hu, at a summit with President Lee Myung-bak on the sidelines of the World Expo in Shanghai, expressed his deep condolences to South Korea for the death of the sailors.

"We hope the Shanghai meeting will lay the groundwork for cooperation between Seoul and Beijing on how to deal with the aftermath of the naval tragedy," Lee's top press officer, Lee Dong-kwan, told reporters after the summit.

Observers here say Seoul's intention to take the case to the United Nations will be the main issue of the envisioned summit between the leaders of North Korea and China, the staunch communist allies.

"What's drawing my attention is the timing of Kim's trip to China," said Yoo Ho-yeol, a political science professor at Korea University and a prominent North Korea expert.

"With its economy faltering and the international community gearing up efforts to revive the deadlocked nuclear talks, the Cheonan issue could deprive Pyongyang of chances of gaining assistance from the outside world and corner it further. That could be a big threat to the North Korea ruler, who is now seeking a smooth power transfer to his son."

At his summit with Hu, Kim may explain his position on the naval incident and appeal for China's cooperation in preventing it from becoming a topic at the U.N. Security Council, the professor said.

To read full Korean Times story — Go Here Now.

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Monday, 03 May 2010 09:09 AM
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