SEOUL >> A top Chinese foreign policy official met Thursday with North Korea’s Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang amid the continuing military crisis on the Korean peninsula.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency did not immediately say what State Councilor Dai Bingguo discussed with Kim. But China is under heavy international pressure to defuse the tension, which spiked with North Korea’s recent artillery attack on a South Korean island near the Koreas’ disputed sea border. The barrage killed four South Koreans.
North Korea, which has few other allies, depends heavily on China for economic assistance and diplomatic support. China fought on North Korea’s side during the 1950-53 Korean war.
The Kim-Dai meeting was held in a warm and friendly atmosphere, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said, and they discussed ways to further strengthen the two countries’ relations. The agency gave no details about whether they discussed North Korea’s recent artillery attack.
Meanwhile, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced a visit to North Korea next week, an attempt to help ease soaring tensions.
“I am increasingly concerned with the recent actions by the North Koreans, which have raised tensions and are contributing to instability on the Korean peninsula,” Richardson said in a statement. “If I can contribute to the easing of tension on the peninsula, the trip will be well worth it.”
Pyongyang on Thursday issued a stark reminder of the still fresh anger between the rivals, underlining its claim to waters around the island it shelled two weeks ago and accusing the United States of orchestrating the attack.