Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

SLUG: 2-268269 North Korea/China DATE: NOTE NUMBER:

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

BYLINE=HYUN SUNG KHANG

DATELINE=SEOUL

INTERNET=YES

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: China's defense minister has arrived in North Korea, just ahead of

a state visit to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The Chinese official is said to be visiting the North for an anniversary observance, while

Ms Albright is flying in for talks on improving ties between Pyongyang and Washington.

From the South Korean capital, Hyun-Sung Khang examines the significance of

the two visits.

TEXT: Officially, Defense Minister Chi Haotian is in North Korea to celebrate the

50th anniversary of the entry of Chinese troops into the Korean War. His

visit comes just a day before Secretary of State Albright is due to arrive.

She will be the highest-ranking U-S diplomat to ever visit Pyongyang and is

expected to meet the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Il. Ms. Albright is

likely to discuss North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and its

inclusion on the list of states that sponsor terrorism. She will also try

to negotiate conditions for a visit to the North by President Clinton.

The simultaneous visits by Defense Minister Chi and Secretary

of State Albright has considerable symbolism. China fought on North

Korea's side against American-led U-N forces during the 1950-1953 Korean

War.

The visits come as Pyongyang is emerging from decades of self-imposed

isolation. In recent days Britain, Spain and Germany have said they will

establish diplomatic relations with North Korea. Analysts say because of

warmer relations between North Korea and Western countries, China now fears

losing influence in the region.

Beijing's worries were compounded after it was reported that North Korea's

leader, Kim Jong-Il said he would not oppose U-S troops staying in South

Korea even after any eventual reunification.

There are currently 37-thousand U-S troops stationed in South Korea, a legacy

of the Korean conflict. (Signed)

NEB/HSK/PFH

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