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N.K. holds state funeral of top diplomat Kang Sok-ju

All Headlines 09:47 May 23, 2016

SEOUL, May 23 (Yonhap) -- North Korea held a state funeral for Kang Sok-ju, a top North Korean diplomat who had negotiated the now-collapsed 1994 nuclear deal with the United States, the North's state media said Monday.

On Sunday, the North carried out the funeral of Kang, a former party secretary in charge of international affairs, who died of esophagus cancer at the age of 77, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"The death of Kang Sok-ju, genuine revolutionary and able political activist, was a great loss to the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) and the people," Choe Ryong-hae, a member of the standing committee of the party's politburo, said in a eulogy.

Kang was involved in crafting the Agreed Framework between the U.S. and the North, which aimed to defuse the nuclear crisis in 1994.

Under the deal, also known as the Geneva Agreement, Pyongyang promised to freeze its nuclear activities in return for light water reactors and oil, as well as a gradual normalization of diplomatic ties.

But the agreement fell apart with the second nuke crisis in late 2002, when Pyongyang was found to have engaged in a clandestine uranium enrichment program.

The six-party denuclearization talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia were launched in 2003 to deal with the North's nuke issue, but the forum has been dormant since late 2008.

The funeral was attended by key party and military officials, including Hwang Pyong-so, director of the general political bureau of North Korea's armed forces; premier of the Cabinet Pak Pong-ju; and Ri Su-yong, a vice chairman of the WPK's bureau on political affairs.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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