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2009/10/08 10:45 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 75 (October 8, 2009)

*** TOPIC OF THE WEEK (Part 2)

N. Korea, China Enhance Alliance Through Friendship Year Celebration

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Celebrating their 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations this week, North Korea and China have vowed to strengthen their close alliance, while Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao made a rare trip to Pyongyang for a series of high-level meetings with North Korean leaders, including top leader Kim Jong-il, chairman of the National Defense Commission.

   Wen's visit shows that China has attached great importance to developing ties with the North and maintaining regional peace and stability, according to Chinese officials. Wen is the first Chinese premier to visit North Korea since former Premier Li Peng visited the country in 1991.

   Wen was greeted at the airport by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, top legislator Kim Yong-nam, and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong-il. Hundreds of thousands of Pyongyang residents gave the Chinese premier a warm welcome along the city's streets.

   North Korean and Chinese state media reported that the two countries signed a package of treaties and other agreements on boosting political and economic ties during the premier's three-day visit that began Oct. 4. These included accords on cooperation in trade, tourism and the software industry. The two countries also announced that a new highway bridge over the Yalu River will be built.

   The official purpose of his trip was to commemorate 60 years of diplomatic relations, but observers and government officials said they expected Wen to touch on denuclearization issues. While Beijing is Pyongyang's sole major ally and its major trade partner and energy supplier, the North's determination to develop nuclear weapons has strained ties.

   In his meeting with Wen, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was quoted as saying that Pyongyang will decide whether to return to the forum depending on the results of its bilateral negotiations with Washington.

   In April, the North announced it was quitting the six-nation disarmament talks hosted by China. It staged its second nuclear test in May, after which China supported tougher United Nations sanctions.

   Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to the North is rich in content, weighty in outcome and significant in meaning, said China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on Oct. 6. Yang, who accompanied the premier on his visit to North Korea, made the remarks when Wen's delegation was flying back to Beijing from Pyongyang.

   According to China's Xinhua News Agency, Yang stressed that the three-day visit had achieved two major results -- further deepening the traditional China-DPRK (North Korea) friendship and boosting their good neighborly relations of cooperation, as well as promoting the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a positive way. As an important country in Northeast Asia and the host of the six-party talks, China has once again played its due role and shouldered its due responsibility, he said.

   Bilateral relations, according to Yang, are experiencing a new historic starting point for cemented friendship, deepened cooperation and coordinated development, which conform to the common wishes of the countries and two peoples.

   Citing the complicated and ever-changing situation on the Korean Peninsula and in the Northeast Asian region, Yang said denuclearization of the peninsula has drawn the attention of the international community with all parties concerned.

   During their talks, both China and North Korea agreed that their friendship forged by old-generation revolutionaries is in line with the common wishes and fundamental interests of both the Chinese and DPRK people, said the foreign minister.

   In the spirit of "inheriting the tradition, facing to the future, developing the good-neighborly relations and strengthening cooperation," the two sides are ready to maintain high-level exchanges, deepen pragmatic cooperation in economy and trade and boost coordination on major issues, so as to further develop their good-neighborly relations of cooperation, bring benefit to the two peoples and promote regional peace, stability and development," Yang said.

   During his visit, Premier Wen also watched "A Dream of Red Mansions," a North Korean-staged opera adapted from a Chinese classical masterpiece, and attended a grand celebration marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and the closing ceremony of the China-DPRK Friendship Year, according to the North official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

   On the eve of Wen's visit, the North Korean capital staged several cultural events devoted to the 60th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Pyongyang and Beijing, including a festival of Chinese cinema, photo displays and shows by Chinese actors.

   Premier Wen also visited a cemetery for martyrs of the Chinese People's Volunteers (CPV) in Hoechang County of South Pyongan Province during his visit. The cemetery, located some 100km east of Pyongyang, is the largest in the North among dozens for the Chinese soldiers who died in the "War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea" more than 50 years ago.

   Wen laid a wreath before the bronze statue of a CPV soldier. He said the people of the motherland have never forgotten the CPV martyrs and will always cherish their memory.

   On Oct. 5, Kim Jong-il and Wen Jiabao attended the closing ceremony of the China-DPRK Friendship Year. In a speech delivered at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, Premier Wen said China and North Korea have understood, supported and helped each other during the past 60 years despite changes in the international situation.

   According to the KCNA, the closing ceremony of the "Year of DPRK-China Friendship" significantly marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the DPRK and China, and the grand gymnastic and artistic performance "Arirang" was given with splendor at the stadium in the evening.

   North Korean Premier Kim Yong-il said, "Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the peoples of the two countries have closely supported and cooperated in all fields of politics, military, economy and culture, weathering together all sorts of trials and tempests of history. This has made a positive contribution to encouraging socialist construction in the two countries and ensuring peace and security in Asia and the rest of the world."

   North Korea's main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said Oct. 4 the official visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to North Korea signifies a new chapter in the history of friendly relations between the two countries.

   "The visit by Comrade Wen Jiabao to our country is of great importance," said the newspaper published by the Workers' Party. "It clearly shows that the Chinese Party and the government attach special importance to friendship between the two countries."

   The newspaper stressed that the trip by the Chinese premier "inspires ... Korean people, fighting for construction of a powerful prospering socialist power." "The consistent position of the Korean Workers' Party and the DPRK government is to value traditional friendly relations between the two countries and to develop them with every passing generation," it noted.

   The newspaper printed a message of greetings to Wen, as well as his photograph and biography, on the front page that is usually devoted to the main news. The newspaper also printed an article on China's economic successes in the Sunday issue.