September 14, 2009 13:55
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is negotiating details of his visit to North Korea for the closing ceremony of the China-North Korea Friendship Year in Pyongyang early next month, the Mainichi Shimbun reported Saturday citing a diplomatic source in Beijing. Wen is likely to visit between Oct. 1, the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, and the three-way summit among South Korea, China and Japan in Beijing on Oct. 10, the daily said. It will be Wen's first North Korea visit as prime minister.
North Korea's Prime Minister Kim Yong-il attended the opening ceremony for the friendship year in China in March. "Because there has been continued exchange of high-profile personnel between the two countries, Wen's visit to North Korea will be a separate issue from North Korea's nuclear weapons issue," a diplomat told the Mainichi.
Wen's visit comes amid signs of a thaw in North Korea's relations with the rest of the world. Bilateral talks are expected between North Korea and the United States, and there are signs of subtle changes in Pyongyang-Tokyo relations after a new government was elected in Japan.
Kim Yong-nam, North Korea's no. 2 leader, called for better relations with Japan in an interview with the Kyodo news agency last week. If Wen makes a visit to North Korea, he is likely to have meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
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