North Korea′s leader tries his hand at diplomacy | News | DW | 03.08.2012
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North Korea's leader tries his hand at diplomacy

North Korea's 'Young Leader' has hosted senior Chinese diplomats. It's believed the discussions could be part of major economic reforms for the North.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made his diplomatic debut at a dinner with his country's closest supporter, China.

The meeting with senior Chinese officials marks Kim's foray into foreign affairs, since taking over the leadership following the death of his father last December. There's also speculation Kim could be planning major economic reforms for the North.

In recent months Kim has also attempted to show his rule will differ in focus and style from his father, Kim Jong Il.

Kim Jong Il kept his personal life out of the media, met only selectively with foreign dignatries and rarely traveled abroad.

However, after gaining new titles and reshuffling North Korea's military leadership last month, Kim Jong Un publicly introduced his wife, Ri Sol Ju. He was also shown most recently in public at a Pyongyang theme park with his wife, and riding a rollercoaster with a man, reportedly a British diplomat.

China's Xinhua's news agency reports that Thursday's meeting with its country's diplomats, including Wang Jiarui, the head of the Communist Party's international affairs office, Kim reiterated his government's focus on building the economy.

'Developing the economy and improving livelihoods, so that the Korean people lead happy and civilised lives, is the goal the Korean Workers' Party is stuggling towards,' Xinhua quotes Kim Jong Un as saying.

Facing broad sanctions over its missile and nuclear weapons programs, the North has been forced to heavily rely on China, its closest ally.

Seoul experts believe Kim is preparing major economic reforms for his country, and Wang's visit could be seen as public support.

'By emphasising the importance of food and civilised living conditions, I think he wanted to request for China's support', according to Yang Moo-jin, a professor at University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, speaking to news agency AP.

However, Beijing experts say China fears that the economic woes in North Korea could give way to instability and waves of refugees coming across the border.

The diplomatic meeting comes as the spokesman for United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said the North had asked for food and emergency aid, following heavy flooding in July which killed more than 100 people.

jr/rg (AP, dpa, Reuters)