North Korea trying to cover up policy struggle

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North Korea
Washington, Jan 31: North Korea is trying to cover up an ongoing policy struggle inside the secretive state's leadership and to divert attention it announced on Friday, Jan 30 that it is scrapping all political and security arrangements with South Korea, according to an expert on this matter.

"I think (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-iI is trying to coordinate different views, but these views are definitely competing," said Choi Jin-wook of Seoul's Korea Institute of National Unification. "And I think one view is the military's."

Pyongyang's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said on Friday, Jan 30 that agreements "putting an end to the political and military confrontation between the North and the South will be nullified."

These include a 1992 agreement on recognition of the Northern Limit Line, the de facto sea border between the Koreas in the Yellow Sea, The Washington Times reported.

Choi said the military "could try to exaggerate tension with the South" to justify its continued pre-eminence.

Friday's statement is the latest in a stream of vitriol, the paper said.

On January 13, North Korea said that it would maintain its nuclear arms until Washington reverses its "hostile policy."

On January 17, a North Korean military officer, making an unusual appearance on state television, announced an "all-out confrontation" against the conservative government of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

North Korean officials also told visiting US scholar Selig Harrison that they had enough material for six nuclear weapons.

Friday's message also is at odds with statements Kim made to visiting Chinese envoys last week, his first meeting with foreigners since he is said to have suffered a stroke in August.

He reportedly said he was seeking the denuclearisation of the peninsula and did not desire increased tensions.

Drew Thompson, an expert on China and North Korea at the Nixon Center in Washington, said the Chinese, like the South Koreans, are "confused and frustrated" by the mixed signals emanating from Pyongyang.

Choi said North Korean actions suggest that policy or power struggles are under way in Pyongyang in the apparent absence of any successor to Kim.

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ANI

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