North Korean leader Kim Jong-il apparently ran into a stone wall in talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao about key projects he wants China to invest in. The result is that ground-breaking ceremonies for the development of Hawanggumpyong Island and for roads connecting Hunchun in China with the Rajin-Sonbong special zone have been cancelled.
A diplomatic source in Beijing said on Thursday there were differences of opinion. China is seeking to scrap the development of Hwanggumpyong, an island in the lower reaches of the Duman (or Tumen) River, which it considers financially unviable, and focus investment on Rajin-Sonbong, while North Korea insists on developing both.
The state-run Xinhua News said Kim met Hu and Wen separately on Wednesday. Meeting Wen, Kim said, "The two countries have taken a new step in economic cooperation with the construction of the new Apnok (or Yalu) River bridge. Let's open a new era through expanded and deeper economic cooperation."
Wen was quoted as saying, "China hopes that economic cooperation is achieved through normal business processes and we believe provinces and businesses need to become more proactive." That is seen as a firm rejection of North Korea's hopes that the Chinese central government will get directly involved in the projects. North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency did not report the comments.
Kim was apparently so miffed that the econocrats accompanying him boycotted his later meeting with Hu.
Hu urged Kim to engage in dialogue with South Korea. "China believes that both sides must maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and uphold the goal of denuclearization, while maintaining objectivity and restraint in tackling obstacles and improving mutual relations."
Kim was quoted as saying he hopes to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, stick to the objective of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and believes that the six-party talks should be resumed at an early date.
He wrapped up his seven-day visit on Thursday afternoon and headed back to North Korea aboard his armored train. He was expected to cross the border early Friday morning.