NKorea Vaunts Progress, Plays Down Stagnation

Wednesday, 22 Sep 2010 11:00 AM

 

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North Korea, despite being stricken by economic stagnation and widespread shortages, has vaunted the social progress it has made to the UN summit aiming to cut poverty.

The summit is fretting over how to reach eight ambitious Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, aiming to slash extreme poverty, hunger and deadly disease.

But an envoy for North Korea, one of the world's poorest and most isolated states, said it was on target to be "a great, prosperous and powerful nation" by 2012 when it will mark the centenary of the birth of its founder leader Kim Il-Sung.

Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil-Yon said that "major MDGs have already been achieved, as illustrated by the introduction of free medical care and compulsory education and effectuation of gender equality rights.

"Now we are devoting ourselves to their consolidation and quality improvements."

Pak made no mention of reported moves that would reportedly see a new family succession in North Korea, with Kim Il-Sung's son, Kim Jong-Il, replaced by one of his own sons.

The minister said under Kim Jong-Il's policies the North was "preserving peace and concentrating our efforts on building an economic power in spite of the destabilized situation on the Korean peninsula."

North Korea is under UN sanctions because of its nuclear program and is involved in a standoff with the rival South after the sinking of a South Korean navy ship in March. An international inquiry has blamed a North Korean torpedo.

Pak said there could be no sustained developmet without a "peaceful environment."

"Louder voices for poverty eradication are coming from one side of the globe but there are more rampant moves coming from the other side of it, such as armed invasions, military threats, sanctions and blockades targeted at sovereign states.

"One can still feel the smoke of the gunpowder coming from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars," he declared in a lightly veiled attack on the United States.

South Korea said this year that the North's economy would shrink again this year because of trade sanctions which could force the country into crisis. It estimates that the North has only posted economic growth in one year of the past five.

The North suffered famine in the 1990s which killed hundreds of thousands of people and it still grapples with severe shortages of food and basic commodities.

Copyright © 2010 AFP.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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