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The arrival of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi here Tuesday was given prominent coverage by North Korean official newspapers and by the nation’s broadcast media, with state-run radio using the event at the top of its morning broadcast.

According to the Tokyo-based Korea News Service, operated by the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun), the Korean Central News Agency confirmed that Koizumi’s arrival was the top news item on the regularly scheduled 10 a.m. news broadcast.

The radio report also featured a short biography of Koizumi.

Meanwhile, KCNA itself reported Koizumi’s arrival in neutral terms, saying he “arrived here today by air for a visit to the Democratic Republic of Korea to have a meeting and talks with Kim Jong Il, chairman of the National Defense Commission of the DPRK.”

KCNA said a plane carrying the “guests” landed at Pyongyang airport at 9:15. It then proceeded to list members of Koizumi’s entourage.

KCNA reported that Koizumi and his entourage were greeted at the airport by Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly; Kim Il Chol, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission; and Vice Foreign Minister Kim Yong Il.

The report did not feature an assessment of the significance of the visit or hint at which issues were on the discussion agenda.

The daily Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, carried a photo and biographical sketch of Koizumi on its front page Tuesday morning.

It did not, however, carry the welcoming remarks that typically accompany coverage of visits by foreign leaders.

Abe meets rival

PYONGYANG (Kyodo) When Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe sat down beside Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at the historic Japan-North Korea summit here Tuesday, the man across the negotiating table was Hwang Ho Nam, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s interpreter.

Hwang, one of North Korea’s top Japanese-language experts, faced off with Abe, a leading hardliner against North Korea who blocked Hwang’s two attempts to obtain a visa to enter Japan.

As secretary of the Korean Measure Committee on Compensation for Comfort Women for Army and Victims of Pacific War, Hwang also sat in on meetings between visiting Japanese and Kim’s late father, Kim Il Sung.

Government sources quoted Koizumi as telling Abe, “I definitely want you, of the hardline stripe” to accompany him on his landmark trip to North Korea.

When Abe met Monday with relatives of some of the 11 Japanese whom Japan believes were abducted to North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, he said: “The Foreign Ministry says there have been changes under way in North Korea. Admitting me, a hardliner, into the country itself may be a change.”

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