|SLUG: 2-268269 North Korea/China||DATE:||NOTE NUMBER:|
BYLINE=HYUN SUNG KHANG
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
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)