Clinton: North Korea succession a concern
Uncertainty over who will replace Kim Jong Il could complicate negotiations over the country's nuclear program, Clinton said.
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During the meeting, Clinton also warned North Korea to cease its confrontational conduct, reports The Korean Times.Skip to next paragraph
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"North Korea is not going to get a different relationship with the United States while insulting and refusing dialogue with the Republic of Korea," she said. "We are calling on the government of North Korea to refrain from being provocative and unhelpful in the war of words that it has been engaged in because that is not very fruitful."
Experts here said her tougher remarks against North Korea than those made during a speech to the Asia Society before her regional trip [were] aimed at relieving lingering worries here that South Korea might be isolated if North Korea resorts to bilateral talks with the United States....
On Thursday, North Korea said it was "ready for war with the South." The statement came following the announcement by the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command on joint military exercises next month and hours ahead of Clinton's visit to Seoul.
Pyongyang has been engaged in a series of provocative acts recently, including preparations for a long-range missile test. The Financial Times reports that North Korea's official KCNA news agency also accused the US of "preparation for war" and of planning "a pre-emptive nuclear strike" against the North. Experts believe that Pyongyang's actions are an attempt to seek attention from the Obama administration.
Clinton's comments about North Korea come as Pyongyang continues to reshuffle its leadership in the wake of Kim's apparent stroke last fall. Agence France-Presse (AFP) reports that Kim has promoted Gen. O Kuk-Ryol to chair the commission that controls North Korea's 1.1 million-man army.
O ... is one of Kim's confidants and a "renowned hawk" who has advocated a hardline stance against South Korea, Yang Moo-Jin, a professor at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies, told AFP.
"His promotion is seen as another strong message towards South Korea," he said. "It is also aimed at enhancing stability in the military by appointing Kim's trusted old guard to a key post."
The North has scrapped all peace accords and threatened war with the South in protest at its conservative government, which has rolled back a policy of engagement with Pyongyang and near-unconditional aid.
AFP notes that Mr. O's son is allegedly close to Kim's youngest son, Kim Jong Un. The Mainichi Daily News reports that Mr. Kim Jong Un was named as Kim Jong Il's successor in a memo currently circulating in the North's military establishment. A similar report appeared last month in South Korea's Yonhap news agency, the Associated Press reported. Kim reportedly does not favor his other sons, Jong Nam and Jong Chol, as possible leaders of North Korea.