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N. Korean foreign trade minister in Singapore to urge investment+
[December 01, 2008]

N. Korean foreign trade minister in Singapore to urge investment+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) SINGAPORE, Dec. 1_(Kyodo) _ North Korean Foreign Trade Minister Ri Ryong Nam, now in Singapore, has urged Singapore companies to invest in the isolated country, the Singapore government said Monday.

The North Korean minister "briefed...on economic developments in North Korea and possible investment opportunities for Singapore companies," in a meeting with Singapore's former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, now a senior minister in the Cabinet, a government statement said.

Goh said, "Singapore would be glad to explore ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation, including in the areas of trade and investment, once international concerns were assuaged and the environment improved."

Goh, who made a trip to North Korea in February when he went to Kaesong, also encouraged Pyongyang to improve its relations with other countries, especially in Northeast Asia, saying, "This would further strengthen investors' confidence and create even more economic opportunities for Pyongyang."

The two sides also reaffirmed ties between the two countries, which have become closer in the past year.

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo made a trip to North Korea in May, accompanied by a business delegation, in what was the first official visit to North Korea by a Singapore Cabinet minister.

On that trip, Yeo met North Korea's No. 2 political leader Kim Yong Nam and Ri.

Yeo said at the end of his visit North Korea might be keen to learn from some aspects of the Singapore development model and that Singapore is ready to offer help and ideas.

While Pyongyang is more likely to follow the Chinese and Vietnamese models, "Singapore is interesting to them because we are a small country, we are no threat to them," Yeo was quoted as saying.

"There's no face lost in taking up ideas from Singapore and we're friendly to them. So, where we can be useful to them, I think they may seek us out," Yeo said.

In addition, Yeo said Pyongyang has asked to send patients to Singapore, which is increasingly popular as a medical hub in Southeast Asia, for treatment, and also asked Singapore to provide scholarships and training in information technology.

Even though Singapore and North Korea have had diplomatic ties since 1975, bilateral contacts are few and Singapore remains the only Association of Southeast Asian Nations country without an ambassador accredited in Pyongyang.

Copyright ? 2008 Kyodo News International, Inc.

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