North Korea Prepares For Kim Funeral

Posted December 27th, 2011 at 5:50 am (UTC-5)
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North Korea is preparing its ceremonial farewell Wednesday to late leader Kim Jong Il, as the world watches for clues to future power brokers in the secretive, nuclear-armed nation.

Pyongyang's state media have, so far, given no details of the planned event, and foreigners are barred. But analysts expect the ceremony to be similar to that of Mr. Kim's father and founding president Kim Il Sung, which highlighted the hallmarks of his rule and strengthened loyalty to his dynastic successor.

North Korean official media continued to establish newly-anointed leader Kim Jong Un's leadership credentials, announcing Monday that Mr. Kim had been appointed to the top post in the Communist Party. The young leader met Monday in Pyongyang with a private delegation of prominent South Koreans, in his first public encounter with foreign visitors since the death of his father was announced last week.

Foreign governments are watching events in Pyongyang closely because of concerns over the young Mr. Kim's rise in a country with a nuclear program, a large army and a history of deep animosity towards its neighbors.

South Korean and Chinese senior officials met in Seoul Tuesday to discuss the situation on the Korean peninsula following Kim Jong Il's death.

South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Park Suk-hwan told reporters that as neighbors, the two countries should forge stronger ties in order to have what he called “a close and timely reaction” to future events. He said maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula is in the interests of both nations.

“Because both countries are in an important position to guarantee the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula, we hope to expand consensus and promote close and timely interaction in the future.”

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun said strategic dialogue between the parties had been very beneficial.

“For the last few years, both sides have exchanged in-depth and honest views regarding international and regional affairs and bilateral relations by holding these kinds of strategy talks. I think it's very useful.”

China is North Korea's major ally and provides valuable economic support to the impoverished nation.

China, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, the United States and Russia are the countries involved of the currently stalled six-party talks aimed at disarming Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.