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Leading Chinese Official Due in NK Next Week

Posted February. 06, 2010 08:16,   


A leading member of the Chinese Communist Party will visit North Korea next week, an official at the South Korean presidential office said yesterday.

Wang Jiarui, director of the party`s international department, will reportedly visit Pyongyang amid stepped-up efforts by the parties to the six-way nuclear talks to open dialogue.

Kim Tae-hyo, South Korean presidential secretary for diplomatic strategy, met with key presidential aides for diplomacy and national security at the White House from Tuesday to Thursday. Kurt Campbell, assistant U.S. secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, visited Seoul from Monday to Friday.

Analysts predict Wang’s visit to Pyongyang could be a watershed in the situation of the Korean Peninsula.

The presidential official in Seoul said, “We understand that Wang will visit Pyongyang around Monday for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il,” adding, “Though Wang`s trip will be a regular exchange of visits in format, we are keeping a close watch since the visit could determine the resumption of the six-party talks and a proposed inter-Korean summit.”

Wang, a key figure in China`s foreign affairs and national security, played a major role in reviving the six-way talks after a lengthy hiatus. After Kim Jong Il said North Korea possessed nuclear weapons in February 2005, Wang visited Pyongyang to convey Chinese President Hu Jintao’s message urging North Korea to return to the six-party talks.

In January last year, Wang became the first foreigner to see Kim after the North Korean leader suffered a stroke.

Analysts say Wang’s visit signals that China, as the host of the six-way talks and wielding major influence over North Korea, has started efforts to persuade Pyongyang to return to the dialogue. China is also expected to arbitrate between North Korea and the U.S. and consolidate its position as a relations coordinator for Pyongyang and Washington.

A presidential aide in Seoul said, “We cannot predict what message Wang will bring, but chances are high that he will urge North Korea to return to the six-way talks. There is chance that he will deliver President Hu’s personal letter or verbal message. Seoul has also known of Wang’s planned visit to North Korea.”

Seoul is closely monitoring what effects China`s dialogue with North Korea will have on the planned inter-Korean summit. The six-party talks and the inter-Korean summit are not incompatible, but Seoul seems to prefer holding the summit first to perhaps persuade Pyongyang to return to the six-party talks.