A group of DPRK government officials led by Minister of External Economic Relations Kim Yong Jae will attend this week’s second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, state media reported on Tuesday.
In a dispatch by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), it was confirmed that the group had departed Pyongyang for the conference, which is due to last from Thursday to Saturday.
The news follows reporting earlier in the day around 1355 local time by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency that Kim and a delegation had been spotted arriving at Beijing airport.
South Korean finance minister Hong Nam-ki is also set to attend the event this week, Yonhap reported, which will see close to 40 heads of state attend a three-day conference on China’s ambitious and controversial infrastructure and investment project.
This week will mark the second time Kim has attended the forum, having previously made an appearance at the inaugural Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May 2017.
Although the DPRK is yet to sign on to Beijing’s plans, a rare piece of reportage in the country’s ruling party organ the Rodong Sinmun last October hailed the project as part of efforts to “achieve prosperity and development by strengthening international cooperation.”
Despite this, analysis by NK News‘s sister site NK Pro found a number of roadblocks to potential North Korean involvement, including Pyongyang’s past record as an untrustworthy debtor.
Also among the expected attendees at the forum this week is Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will likely fly to the Chinese capital following a planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
That meeting — the first of its kind between a DPRK leader and a Russian President in almost eight years — is set to be held on Thursday in Vladivostok, the Kremlin confirmed today.
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