SHENYANG, China -- North Korea’s premier is visiting northeastern China to meet with ranking officials there and speed up joint economic projects between the communist allies, sources here said Wednesday.
Choe Yong-rim arrived in the city of Harbin in Heilongjiang Province earlier this week and visited the city of Changchun in a nearby province on Wednesday, the diplomatic sources said.
Choe, promoted by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il at a parliamentary convention in June, is seen as trying to consolidate the ties between Pyongyang and Beijing as the two countries seek to develop a joint economic bloc that draws from resources in China.
His visit comes after Kim visited the area in late August.
During a summit between the North Korean leader and Chinese President Hu Jintao, the countries promised to boost their political and economic cooperation.
Choe‘s trip, also reported by a local daily here, comes after
12 of the highest-ranking North Korean mayoral and provincial chiefs visited the same region in October, touring food, chemical and agricultural factories along with other major facilities.
Believed to be a key aide to North Korea’s next leader, Kim Jong-un, the premier inspected electronics and medicine companies and a agricultural research center in Harbin on Tuesday, the sources said.
Choe, 79, formerly chief of the Pyongyang department for the ruling Workers‘ Party, has been noted for his rise to power in the past several months. He gave a speech at a mass rally on May 30, where as many as 100,000 North Koreans reportedly denounced South Korea and the United States for blaming Pyongyang for the sinking of a South Korean warship in March. (Yonhap News)