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FM denies $3 billion NK investment deal (2)

By Liu Linlin (Global Times)

08:34, February 17, 2012

The Dong-a Ilbo reported Thursday that Pyongyang will allow companies operating in the Kaesong industrial complex bordering South Korea to set up new facilities or build plants there, lifting a ban set on May 24 last year.

According to the BBC, German, Russian, Indian and Thai companies are already trading with North Korea.

"There are reports of Australian interest in mining and British involvement in finance," BBC said.

"The North Korean government has stressed the need to develop the economy and to improve people's livelihoods. China is looking forward to seeing more reforms in the North and can offer advice on economic reforms," Lü Chao, a researcher with the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

"There are things North Korea is doing to be more pragmatic, certainly to open up, to court foreign investment - like ramping up their economic relationship with China, re-opening the SEZs, giving them more autonomy. These are arrows pointing in the direction of some sort of transition," John Delury, a North Korea specialist at South Korea's Yonsei University, told BBC.

Also Thursday, a huge military parade was held in Pyongyang to mark the 70th anniversary of the birth of late leader Kim Jong-il.

Battles can break out without warning, military chief Ri Yong-ho told the televised ceremony, vowing to "wipe out US imperialists and South Korean puppet traitors" and reunify the Peninsula in case of war, AFP reported.

"Kim Jong-un! Protect him with all our might!" roared thousands of troops from the army, navy and air force, state television showed.

Shortly before this, hundreds of top military and civilian officials paid tribute to Kim Jong-Il inside the main marble-pillared palace.

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