NK Hints at Greater Cooperation with Int'l Agencies at Assembly Meeting
North Korea expressed its willingness to further upgrade relations with the outside world, promising greater cooperation with international organizations, in an effort to address its current economic woes.
At the fourth session of the 10th term Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) meeting on Thursday at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang, North Korea signaled reform and economic development tacitly.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and the bigwigs of the ruling Workers' Party and the Army were present at the meeting, in addition to most of the 687 Assembly members. The meeting ended, unusually, as a one-day event.
Cabinet Prime Minister Hong Song-nam, in a rare speech given to a regular Assembly session, evaluated last year's Cabinet projects and outlined plans for this year.
``We will fully extend and develop our relations with any foreign country that treats us in a friendly manner and actively cooperate with international organizations,'' Hong said. He also expressed willingness for what he called the ``consistent realization of a concrete foreign policy.''
Such references to other countries and international bodies were seen as a move to step up diplomacy and to woo more foreign investment into its economy, experts said. Some watchers interpreted such statements as being aimed indirectly at the U.S., leaving open the possibility of better relations.
``By making no direct references to the U.S., the North is basically saying, `We will see what North Korea policy the U.S. adopts, and then react,''' said Shin Eon-sang, director-general of the Unification Ministry's Information Analysis Bureau, briefing reporters on the SPA meeting.
The four agendas presented before this year's SPA session were reports on last year's Cabinet projects and presentation of this year's plans, auditing and passing the budgets of 2000 and 2001, the adoption of three new laws, and organizational issues.
The economy dominated the session. While not living up to the South's expectation for a significant reform of the economy, proof of the North's eagerness to prop up its economy abounded. After making a lengthy report on last year's economic ``feats,'' in fields ranging from mining to agriculture, Hong went on to call for a ``fundamental turnaround'' in all sectors, in line with the ``new thinking'' which propelled great expectations for North's Korea's change since the new year. …