Friday, May 07, 2010

Kim Jong-il reportedly reaffirms commitment to denuclearizing Korean Peninsula

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il reportedly reaffirmed his country’s commitment to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula but fell short of announcing Pyongyang’s return to the six-way talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programs in a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao this week, China’s state-run news agency said.

Kim and Hu also pledged to work together to “create favorable conditions” for restarting the stalled six-party talks designed to end the North’s nuclear weapons programs, Xinhua said.

Kim’s trip was seen as an attempt by the North to receive economic benefits from China -- chair of the six-way talks -- as a quid pro quo for returning to the denuclearization process. Many believe Pyongyang is struggling with economic problems exacerbated by a botched currency reform late last year and international economic sanctions levied after it conducted its second nuclear test last May.

It also came amid strained inter-Korean relations caused by the sinking of a South Korean warship in the West Sea in March.Yesterday, the government-led investigation team tentatively ruled that the Cheonan was damaged by a “non-contact close-range blast” from a torpedo, which split the vessel in two and caused it to sink on March 26. Officials have said the results, if they stick, would be a certain indication that North Korea attacked the ship as no other country had motives for firing torpedoes towards South Korean vessels. The South Korean Foreign Ministry is reportedly preparing to present the issue at the United Nations as soon as the government concludes its investigation.

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