Thursday, July 29, 2010

North Korea, China Sign Agreement for Economic, Technological Cooperation

North Korea, China Sign Agreement
for Economic, Technological Cooperation*

By Yidi Zhao. Editor: Ben Richardson.
Bloomberg News - Jul 29, 2010

North Korea signed an economic and technical cooperation agreement with China today, a week after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced further trade sanctions to halt the regime’s nuclear-weapons program.

Liu Hongcai, the Chinese ambassador to North Korea, and Ri Ryong Nam, the nation’s Minister of Foreign Trade, signed the agreement during a ceremony held in Pyongyang, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. It didn’t elaborate.

Clinton announced sanctions that target government officials and the foreign banks that help sustain the North’s weapons industry during a visit to Seoul last week. The U.S. has backed South Korean claims that the North torpedoed one of its ships and has been pressing for an international effort to put more pressure on Kim Jong Il’s regime.

China has so far refused to condemn North Korea for the attack on the Cheonan, which killed 46 South Korean sailors. China accounted for 79 percent of the North’s 2009 international trade, according to the Seoul-based Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency. China provides almost 90 percent of energy imports and 45 percent of the country’s food, according to a July 2009 report by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.

China’s Foreign Ministry had no knowledge of the agreement and the Commerce Ministry didn’t immediately respond to a fax seeking comments.