Skip to main content

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

By the CNN Wire Staff
January 3, 2012 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell (pictured) will visit China, South Korea and Japan in a four-day trip
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell (pictured) will visit China, South Korea and Japan in a four-day trip
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The diplomat is visiting China, South Korea and Japan in a four-day trip
  • He will discuss North Korea, Myanmar and other issues during his visit
  • The situation on the Korean peninsula is tense following the death of Kim Jong Il
  • North Korea has dismissed the idea of a change in relations with the South

(CNN) -- 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."

U.S. forces deterrent on Korea Peninsula
North Korean hard line on South remains
Expert: Kim Jong Un may be more hardline
North Korea's future post-Kim Jong Il

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.

"The South Korean puppets and foolish politicians around the world should not expect any change," the North Korean National Defense Commission warned in a statement last week, labeling Lee's government a "group of traitors."

Against that backdrop, Campbell's visit aims to cover "a range of important bilateral, regional and global issues" including North Korea, according to the State Department. He begins Tuesday by meeting senior officials in China, a key ally and economic partner of North Korea.

Campbell will then leave Wednesday for South Korea, where nearly 30,000 U.S. troops are stationed. His last stop is in Japan, another key U.S. military ally.

All three countries that Campbell is visiting have participated in the so-called six-party talks over ending North Korea's nuclear program. The other participants are the United States, Russia and North Korea itself.

In October, U.S. officials held a "positive" meeting with a North Korean delegation in an effort to restart these long-stalled discussions, U.S. Ambassador Stephen Bosworth said at the time.

Kim's death has left the future prospects of that initiative uncertain.

As well as North Korea, Campbell's meetings will address the topic of Myanmar, which has seen rapid political change -- including the legalization of famed dissident Aung Sang Suu Kyi's political party -- since the election of a new president in March.

China has been one of Myanmar's key supporters and trading partners during the Southeast Asian nation's decades of military rule.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT