Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top U.S. diplomat in China to discuss North Korea

A top U.S. diplomat will arrive in Beijing on Tuesday at the start of a tour around Northeast Asia, which is still adapting to the change of leadership in North Korea following the death of Kim Jong Il last month.

During the four-day visit, Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, is stopping off in China, South Korea and Japan, all close neighbors of nuclear-armed North Korea.

Relations on the Korean peninsula have been tense since Kim's death fueled doubts about the secretive regime's stability and future direction.

Funeral and memorial services for Kim in Pyongyang last week served to cement the rise of his son and chosen successor, Kim Jong Un, as the nation's "supreme leader."

President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea on Monday called the transitional period following the elder Kim's death a "window of opportunity" to improve relations across the world's most heavily fortified border.

But Pyongyang has so far dismissed the notion that a new leader will bring about any shift in its stance toward its neighbor to the south. Read More