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North Korea: A new era?

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North Korea: A new era?


While North Korea gives an emotional farewell to its ‘dear leader’ Kim Jong-Il, who died of a heart attack on December 17, the world waits to see what will become of the regime in the hands of his young son Kim Jong-Un.

In an attempt to smooth diplomatic relations, South Korea authorised the sending of two private delegations to Pyongyang to honour the late dictator. One was led by the widow of former South Korean President, Kim Dae-Jung, who had organised the first ever inter-Korean summit in 2000. The other by the President of Hyundai Group, Hyun Jung-Eun, who is investing in North Korea.

The new regime has requested official condolences from Seoul as a prerequisite to any resumption of North-South dialogue. Officially, the two Koreas are still at war, as neither side has signed a peace treaty since the armistice in 1953, and sporadic acts of aggression do still occur.

Experts also agree that Pyongyang has stalled all talks of de-nuclearisation. It is reported that North Korea is in possession of a number of ballistic missiles which have a range of between 600-700 kilometres. Some of them are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, a source of great tension in the region.

All eyes now turn to China, the only ally of the regime. Its president Hu Jintao, who personally visited the North Korean Embassy in Beijing to pay his condolences, has expressed support for a resumption of six-party talks on de-nuclearisation.

These negotiations between North and South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan have been put on hold since December 2008.

Euronews spoke to Robert Lawrence Kahn, a long-time adviser to the Chinese government. He gave his views on the direction North Korea will take under Kim Jong-Un, and the role China will play in the transition of power.

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