The Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper says German economists and jurists are advising reclusive North Korea on ways to open up to western investors. The nuclear aspirant has long faced sanctions based on UN resolutions.
An unnamed scientist quoted by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) said the regime, headed by its new leader Kim Jong-Un, was particularly interested in adopting modern legislation that would attract selected investors.
"They are rather more interested in the Vietnamese blueprint, whereby selected enterprises for investment are picked out," said the advisor.
North avoiding Chinese model
According to FAZ, powerful figures within North Korea, including its military, wanted to allow entry to select firms of the Western industrialized world, including those of Japan and South Korea.
They wanted to avoid past practices of attracting Chinese companies or copying the Chinese model of setting up special economic zones, FAZ said.
The North Korea military did not want to relinquish control over North Korea's massive raw material reserves in which Chinese companies were primarily interested, said an anonymous German economic scientist quoted by FAZ.
It said he had made numerous visits to the impoverished nation.
In a rare message at New Year, Kim Jong-un, who became leader in late 2011 after the death of his father, called for a "radical turnabout" within North Korea's state-directed economy and predicted an easing of tensions with South Korea.
Kim also praised an internationally condemned rocket launch made by the isolated communist state on December 12, saying a similar effort was needed to "build an economic giant."
Kim's speech was the first of its kind for 19 years, since the death of his grandfather Kim Il-Sung. His late father, Kim Jong-il, largely avoided public pronouncements.
According to United Nations agencies, millions of North Koreans struggle daily to feed themselves in a repressive nation crippled by electricity and material shortages. North Korea performed nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
South Korea's president-elect Park Guen-Hye, who will take office in February, recently signaled her desire for greater engagement with Pyongyang.
Richardson to visit North
The US State Department has criticized a visit planned to North Korea by former New Mexico state government Bill Richardson and Eric Schmidt, the chairman of the internet giant Google.
Richardson, a former US ambassador at the UN and veteran intermediary, said their joint trip would focus on humanitarian issues in a "very tense" North Korea. One aim was to obtain the release of a US citizen of Korean descent, Kenneth Bae.
There was an "opportunity for dialogue," said Richardson. "Perhaps a new approach is needed in dealing with North Korea," he added.
Richardson said he had invited Schmidt to join the trip because "he's interested in foreign policy, he's a friend of mine, and I felt that it was important that there be a broader perspective of our visit."
State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said their intended trip was "not particularly helpful," adding that Richardson and Schmidt would be traveling as private citizens.
ipj/sej (dpa, AFP)