North Korea's Kim tells China, economy a priority

By REUTERS
August 3, 2012 05:20

 
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BEIJING - North Korea's new young leader, Kim Jong-un, told a Chinese official that his government is focused on "developing the economy and improving people's livelihoods," China's official news agency reported late on Thursday.

Kim's comments to the visiting Chinese official, Wang Jiarui, were the latest sign that the new young leader aims to tackle North Korea's decaying economy, which has been poorly managed under the military-first government system.

This is in contrast to Kim's late father who was focused on military tensions and allowed the military to play a key role in running North Korea, which is now struggling with chronic poverty, isolation and damaging floods that could deepen hunger.

"Developing the economy and improving livelihoods, so that the Korean people lead happy and civilized lives, is the goal the Korean Workers' Party is struggling towards," Kim told Wang, the head of the Chinese Communist Party's International Department, Beijing's key interlocutor with the North.

Kim's comments in a meeting in Pyongyang broke no new policy ground, but analysts and diplomatic sources in China and South Korea expect Kim to probably embark on an economic reform package soon.

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