By Jeremy Laurence– RAJIN, North Korea (Reuters) – Destitute North Korea’s push to breathe new life into economic relationships with its neighbors China and Russia appears to be bearing fruit in its far north of the country where foreigners are busy helping rebuild a crumbling infrastructure.
A top local official told reporters on Tuesday that China and Russia had invested heavily in the region in order to gain access to its three east coast ports in the towns of Rajin and Songbon, which are the main centers for the secretive North’s Rason Special Economic Zone.
“Rason is situated well geographically, and provides favorable conditions for investment,” the city’s vice mayor Hwang Chol-nam said through an interpreter.
The ports would more than halve the distance Chinese firms needed to ferry goods from landlocked Yanji in Jilin province to the major industrial center of Dalian which is also a shipping hub for northeast China.
Impoverished and squeezed by international sanctions for conducting a series of nuclear and missile tests from 2006, North Korea has reached out to Moscow and Beijing for help to fill the gap left by the drying up of South Korean and the U.S. economic assistance.
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