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NKorea's Kim seen trying to bolster regime

by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Aug 13, 2007
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il will try to secure his regime's survival and bolster his country's economy at an upcoming inter-Korean summit, a Seoul politician who has met the leader said Monday.

"This is a very important and a timely meeting for Chairman Kim," said Chung Dong-Young of the August 28-30 meeting in Pyongyang between the leader of the hardline communist state and South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun.

"For chairman Kim and for the North Korean regime, their objective is their survival and secondly their economic survival," Chung told foreign correspondents, when asked what North Korea's goals are in the meeting.

"I believe Chairman Kim Jong-Il will use the second summit to secure the firm security of his regime and economic survival."

Chung, a prospective pro-government presidential candidate, said the summit -- only the second in the two countries' history -- would energise the six-party denuclearisation process.

A six-nation agreement signed in February envisages normalised relations with the US and a permanent peace pact on the Korean peninsula, as well as energy aid worth hundreds of millions of dollars, if the North scraps all its nuclear weaponry.

Chung, who met Kim in June 2005 while he was Seoul's unification minister, said peace on the peninsula could also bring a dramatic expansion of North-South joint economic projects.

"When this happens, changes will naturally happen in North Korean society. It will develop rapidly into a country with a successful market economy like other communist countries in Asia such as China or Vietnam."

Chung said Kim genuinely fears the United States but had pledged to scrap all his atomic weapons in exchange for peace with it.

"The reason I maintain nuclear weapons is to protect myself because the United States, a big superpower, would like to step on a small nation like North Korea," he quoted the leader as saying in 2005.

"However if the US recognises us, we have no reason to maintain nuclear weapons."

Chung forecast "a certain chemistry" between the two Korean leaders when they meet in Pyongyang. "Both prefer a bold approach and they are comparatively frank and very clear-cut."

He described Kim as open to reason and well informed about world affairs.

"If you are able to make a logical argument with him... he's someone who can be persuaded," Ching said. "He's someone you can talk to."

Chung said Kim at their 2005 meeting could recall the date of a reported remark by the then-US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, describing the North Korean leader as an idiot.

"How could I trust and talk to somebody who calls me that?" Chung quoted Kim as saying.

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Japan And Russia Discuss Second Phase Of North Korea Talks
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 06, 2007
Top negotiators from Japan and Russia on Monday discussed the next phase of six-party talks aimed at getting North Korea to scrap its nuclear programmes, officials here said. Tokyo's top envoy to the talks Kenichiro Sasae and his Moscow counterpart Alexander Losyukov "met in Tokyo and exchanged general opinions on how to proceed with the next phase" of the North's nuclear disarmament programme, agreed in February, an official at the foreign ministry said.

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