Tuesday, November 24, 2009

China, N.Korea pledge to strengthen alliance

by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Nov 23, 2009
Chinese and North Korean defence chiefs have pledged to strengthen their military alliance -- dating back to the Korean War -- during talks in Pyongyang, state media said Monday.

The move came after Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie arrived in North Korea for talks Sunday, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

Liang told a reception by Pyongyang's defence chief Kim Yong-Chun that the bilateral relationship was "sealed in blood" when he and other Chinese troops fought the 1950-1953 Korean War on the North Koreans' side.

"No force on earth can break the unity of the armies and peoples of the two countries and it will last forever," Liang said, according to KCNA.

"It is the fixed stand of the Korean army and people to invariably consolidate and develop the DPRK (North Korea)-China friendship, which has stood all trials of history," Kim Yong-Chun said.

The defence chiefs then had "comradely and friendly" talks, according to the report.

KCNA said Liang arrived in Pyongyang by plane on Sunday, inspected an honour guard, attended a fete, presented a gift for North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, and met with Kim Yong-Chun, but gave no more details on his itinerary.

Chinese state media announced Friday that Liang would be on a three-nation tour of North Korea, Japan and Thailand from Sunday to December 5.

The trip comes as Stephen Bosworth, US special representative for North Korean policy, is scheduled to visit the communist state on December 8 in order to persuade it to return to six-party nuclear disarmament talks.

North Korea quit the talks in April, a month before it tested a second atomic weapon. Pyongyang said last month it was ready to return to the talks, but only if bilateral meetings with the US make progress.

The six-nation talks, which began more than six years ago, group the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.

China has hosted the talks since 2003.

Though being one of North Korea's handful of remaining allies, China has joined tougher United Nations Security Council sanctions to punish Pyongyang for its defiant nuclear weapons and missile tests.

But China has strongly opposed any moves that could escalate further tensions on the often volatile Korean peninsula.

Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's communist party newspaper and official mouthpiece, Monday denounced the latest inter-Korean naval clash earlier this month as a US-South Korean scheme to ignite a new war.

Navy boats from the two Koreas had a brief but intensive exchange of fire near the disputed Yellow Sea border on November 10 -- the first such skirmish in seven years.

Seoul said its navy left a North Korean patrol boat in flames and local media reports said one North Korean sailor was killed and three wounded.

Pyongyang has since threatened to take "merciless" military action to protect its own version of the Yellow Sea border with South Korea and warned that Seoul would pay dearly for any future naval clash.

The North refuses to recognise the borderline set by the United Nations after the 1950-1953 war and demands that it be drawn further to the south.

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