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FM denies $3 billion NK investment deal

By Liu Linlin (Global Times)

08:33, February 17, 2012

The foreign ministry Thursday denied a South Korean report that Beijing had agreed to invest $3 billion in North Korea's northeastern Rason special economic zone (SEZ) in exchange for leasing three piers for 50 years.

"The report was not true," the ministry said in a fax to the Global Times, but added that the two countries had agreed on how to co-develop the SEZ, without elaborating.

Citing unnamed sources in Seoul and Beijing, the Yonhap News Agency reported Wednesday that China and North Korea reached the $3 billion investment deal late last year.

Under the agreement, China would apparently build an airfield and a thermal power plant in Rason, as well as a 55-kilometer railway track between China's northeastern city of Tumen and Rason, Yonhap said.

The two sides broke ground for a joint economic zone in June on North Korea's west coast, on an island in the estuary of the Yalu River.

Also on Wednesday, the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper reported that in January, the North Korean government sent a 1,000-strong delegation of trade officials and technicians to China, but did not explain the purpose of the visit.

Choi Choon-heum, with the Korea Institute for National Unification, told the Global Times that these are signs that North Korea is continuing its economic opening-up.

"It is too early to judge whether North Korea will start its economic reform and become more open to the outside world, but the latest moves are definitely positive signs," said Choi, who remained cautious on any possible major policy changes in North Korea under young leader Kim Jong-un.

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Canada at 2012-02-1770.36.49.*
If the U.S. and South Korea are serious about nuclear disarmament, why the provocation of military exercises off North Korea"s coast?

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