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All Headlines 11:29 June 19, 2008

*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 1)

Kim Jong-il's First Visit to China 25 Years Ago Celebrated

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea and China recently celebrated North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's first visit to the traditional ally, which took place in June 1983, and pledged to continuously develop friendly relations.

According to the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 12, a film screening and reception were held at the DPRK (North Korea) Embassy in Beijing on June 10 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Kim Jong-il's first visit to China.

Kim Jong-il visited China as the heir designated by his father, Kim Il-sung, in an effort to get diplomatic approval from the neighbor for the first hereditary power transfer in a communist country.

Indicating the importance of the anniversary, China's high-ranking officials were invited, including Dai Bingguo, state councilor of China, and Liu Hongcai, deputy head of the International Liaison Department of the Central Committee, the Communist Party of China, according to the KCNA.

Other attendees were "officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Railways, the General Political Department of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, the People's Daily and Xinhua News Agency," the KCNA added.

DPRK Ambassador to China Choe Jin-su said it is the consistent stance of his country to steadily consolidate and develop the DPRK-China friendship.

In return, Liu Hongcai said the Chinese people will always remember the fact that Kim Jong-il recently showed deep care for the development of friendly relations between the two countries, citing the torch relay for the Beijing Olympiad in Pyongyang and support for the work to recover from the earthquake in Sichuan Province.

Likewise, the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of (North) Korea on June 10 arranged a friendly meeting with staff members of the Chinese Embassy in Pyongyang for the anniversary.

Meanwhile, Xi Jinping, vice president of China, who is likely to be the next president, visited Pyongyang on June 17. North Korea was his first overseas destination after he became vice president in March.


Kim Jong-il Inspects Shipping Parts Factory

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il made a tour of a shipping parts firm in the country's northern province, emphasizing the importance of high-quality fishing and cargo ships for the country, North Korea's state-run news outlet said on June 15.

The (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Kim inspected the state-run company in North Pyongan Province, "urging workers to make efforts to take up enhanced technologies to support production of modernized fishing and cargo ships."

The report did not specify the date of Kim's trip, as the KCNA usually provides belated reports on the leader's activities due to security concerns. Kim often makes tours of military bases to give pep talks to soldiers.

The North Korean leader "praised the laborers for devoting their patriotic zeal in enhancing the country's shipping industry and increasing output overwhelmingly over the past few years," the KCNA added.

It was Kim Jong-il's fourth visit to the site since the factory was built in 2005.

Kim had earlier made surprise visits to a tidal flat reclamation site on Taegye Island and a cooperative farm in North Pyongan Province, encouraging farmers to keep up their efforts to contribute to the country's agricultural production, the KCNA said.


North Korea to Increase Voluntary Blood Donors

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea is organizing colorful activities to increase its number of voluntary unpaid blood donors, the North's news outlet said on June 16.

The (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that a function for World Blood Donor Day was held at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang on June 16 under the co-sponsorship of the Ministry of Public Health of the DPRK (North Korea), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. World Blood Donor Day falls on June 14.

To commemorate the day, "model blood donors were introduced, and a photo exhibition and others were held in the North," the KCNA said.

The North's authorities have made the collection of blood from voluntary donors an important health policy, the news agency added.

"Mass media highlighted the beautiful deeds of donors and medical workers who devote their blood for patients, thus making the donors feel pride and honor," it said, adding propaganda activities are being done to regularly give a new understanding of blood donation to the people.

However, according to the 2004-2008 WHO country report for North Korea, access to emergency obstetrical care, including safe blood, is limited, while access to safe intravenous infusions is inadequate.

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