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N. Korea draws US$10 billion in foreign investments: source

All Headlines 14:12 February 15, 2010

SEOUL, Feb. 15 (Yonhap) -- North Korea attracted US$10 billion in foreign investments through a senior Chinese envoy who recently made a high-profile visit to Pyongyang amid international sanctions imposed on the communist state after its nuclear tests last year, a source familiar with North Korean issues said Monday.

Wang Jiarui, head of the international department of the Communist Party of China, visited Pyongyang last week to help resume the six-party nuclear talks. North Korea has demanded that, prior to resuming the multilateral talks, sanctions be lifted and a peace treaty signed to replace the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

"A couple of Chinese banks and multiple international companies have practically clinched investment deals with Daepung International Investment Group," the source told Yonhap News Agency.

During his four-day visit to Pyongyang, the source said Wang held in-depth discussions about investments by Chinese companies via Daepung Group, an investment company that works to attract overseas capital to the communist state.

Total investments are expected to exceed the $10 billion mark, with a signing ceremony planned by North Korea's State Development Bank in mid-March that is to be attended by foreign investors from involved nations, the source said.

"Over 60 percent of total investments, which will be announced next month, will come from China," the source added, suggesting the Chinese government's close involvement in building railways, ports and houses in North Korea.

Chinese media reported that during Wang's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the normally reclusive Kim told the Chinese envoy that Pyongyang's "persistent stance to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" remains unchanged. The envoy has met with Kim on each of his four visits to the North since 2004.

China is North Korea's biggest trading partner and an important provider of food and fuel. North Korea remains isolated from most of the world and has received virtually no foreign investment. The North's GDP was estimated at around $26.2 billion in 2008 compared with $1.3 trillion for the South, according to the U.S. State Department.

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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