China, long the biggest ally for the North Korea, has announced plans to help firms invest in the isolated country.
Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Chen Jian gave a statement today that called for more investment in two key economic zones, in Rason on North Korea's east coast, and Hwanggumphyong on the border with China, Russia Today reports.
"We will support big Chinese companies who are willing to invest in North Korea to broaden the economic and trade cooperation with North Korea, to push the two sides to upgrade two-way trade and investment structures and study the feasibility of cooperation on big projects," Jian's statement read.
It's unclear from the statement exactly what the investment would be, but recent developments suggest that North Korea has been looking for outside help in developing its mineral mining industry. North Korea is thought to sit on $6 trillion worth of minerals, including a large amount of rare earth metals — an asset which China dominates the trade of. China does not adhere to a number of US and UN sanctions on North Korea that restrict its trade.
The BBC reports that China and North Korea also signed deals on agricultural co-operation and electricity supply.
The announcement came after a week long trip to China by North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un's uncle, Jang Song-taek. Jang is rumored to hold considerable sway in Pyongyang — some even argue that he holds more power than his nephew.
North Korea is due to hold talks with Japan later this month, the BBC reports.
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