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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 16 (August 14, 2008)

All Headlines 10:44 August 14, 2008

*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)

N. Korea's No. 2 Leader Meets with Chinese Leaders

SEOUL, Aug. 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's No. 2 leader Kim Yong-nam met in Beijing with China's president Hu Jintao and top legislator Wu Bangguo in separate meetings, the North's state-run radio station reported on Aug. 8.

Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, met the Chinese officials on Aug. 7, the North's Korean Central Broadcasting Station monitored in Seoul said. Both meetings were conducted in a "friendly atmosphere," it said.

During the meeting with Hu, Kim delivered North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's message of greetings to the Chinese president, according to the report.

Hu expressed gratitude for the message as well as North Korea's assistance after China suffered deadly natural disasters earlier this year, the broadcast announced.

He vowed to make more efforts to develop amicable ties between the two countries "regardless of how international politics may change," describing the two countries' relations as a commonwealth shared by old-generation communist revolutionaries.

Wu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People's Congress, expressed thanks for North Korea's support in China's preparation for the Olympics, during his meeting with Kim Yong-nam, the report added.

Kim arrived in Beijing just before noon on Aug. 7 to attend the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympic Games scheduled for Friday night. He returned home on Aug. 9 after wrapping-up his three-day visit to Beijing.


KCNA Rebukes U.S. for Incorrectly Designating Sovereignty of Korean Territories

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea recently denounced the United States for creating tension in Northeast Asia by wrongly designating the sovereignty of the highest mountain on the Korean Peninsula, which borders China, on a U.S. government Web site.

The U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) designated Mt. Paektu and Chonji Lake, which lies at the peak of the mountain, as belonging to China on an Internet service network of geographical names, the North's state-run news agency said on Aug. 8.

The BGN also designated the Amnok River as belonging to China and the Tumen River estuary as Russian on the site. The two North Korean rivers border China and Russia, respectively.

The (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that incorrect sovereignty designations of geographical places has long spawned serious political problems worldwide, claiming, "In deliberately misusing geographical names of various places, some institutions of the U.S. seek an ulterior motive to render the situation in Northeast Asia extremely tense and trigger disputes there in a bid to fish in troubled waters."

The news agency said that as early as 1977, the BGN deliberately changed the name of the Korean islets of Dokdo in the East Sea, inviting censure and derision from the international community. "This clearly proves in the eyes of the world that U.S. institutions are pseudo-organs made up of imbeciles and fools utterly ignorant of world geography."

"Such behavior on the part of the U.S. reminds one of what it did more than a century ago when it recognized the Korean Peninsula as a region under Japanese rule and fabricated the 'Taft-Katsura Agreement' with the Japanese imperialists," the KCNA said. "We state loud and clear that the geographical names of all areas of Korea are issues concerning the eternal cradle of the Korean nation."

In late July, the BGN changed Dokdo's status from Sout Korean territory to "undesignated sovereignty" on its Web site, infuriating South Koreans who still harbor bitter memories of Japan's brutal colonial rule over Korea from 1910-1945. But the BGN reinstated its position that South Korea has territorial sovereignty over Dokdo on July 30, one week after it made the controversial change.


North Korea to Participate in 2010 World Expo

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea will take part in the 2010 World Expo set to open in Shanghai, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper in Japan said on Aug. 11.

This will mark the North's first participation in a world expo, to which the communist state gained membership in February.

"Preparation by relevant officials is in full gear ahead of North Korea's participation in the 2010 Shanghai World Expo," said Choson Sinbo, a daily newspaper for the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.

The North aims to promote its capital Pyongyang as a pollution-free city with a rich architectural heritage and tourist attractions during the expo, whose slogan is "better city, better life," the report said, citing Pyongyang officials.

Chinese officials expect the event will draw about 70 million people from 200 countries during its 184-day period from May 1, 2010.


North Korea to Complete Abduction Probe by Fall

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea will soon reopen and complete an investigation into its past abduction of Japanese citizens by this fall under the latest deal between the two countries, news reports said on Aug. 13.

The abduction issue remains a key obstacle to Japan's economic aid for the North and their efforts to normalize diplomatic ties.

"North Korea will set up an authoritative reinvestigation committee," Akitaka Saiki, director-general of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, was quoted as saying by Japan's Kyodo News Service.

"This committee will carry out the investigation in a prompt manner and will try, as much as possible, to finish it by this fall," he added.

Pyongyang will also allow Japan to confirm the results of the reopened investigation through interviews with related officials, a review of documents, and visits to related sites, according to Saiki.

Saiki was explaining the results of his two-day talks with a North Korean envoy in the Chinese city of Shenyang, during which the two sides were attempting to work out details of their June agreement in which Pyongyang promised to reinvestigate the abduction case, reversing its long-standing claim to have come clean about the sensitive matter.

However, North Korea's news media, as of Aug. 13, did not report the results of the talks with Japan in Shenyang.

At least 17 Japanese citizens were kidnapped by the North in the 1970s and 1980s, according to Japanese officials. North Korea has maintained that only 13 Japanese nationals were held against their will, citing the results of its own investigation.

Saiki reaffirmed that in return for Pyongyang's reinvestigation, Tokyo would partially lift sanctions on the communist nation, including mutual visits between the two countries and exchange of chartered flights.

Japan and North Korea also agreed to continue talks on Tokyo's demand that Pyongyang hand over Japanese radicals who hijacked a Japan Airlines passenger jet, named Yodo, forcing it to land in North Korea in 1970.

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