China has appointed 54-year-old former ambassador to Norway Chen Naiqing as its special envoy on Korean Peninsula affairs, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Chen, a professional diplomat, joined the Foreign Ministry in 1974 and has been the ambassador to Norway since 2003.
Her predecessor Li Bin was ambassador to the Republic of Korea (ROK) before being appointed envoy to Korean Peninsula affairs in September 2005.
The appointment of Chen, who works as a close aid to Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, is expected to speed up the process of resolving the nuclear issues of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Also on Friday, The DPRK reiterated its commitment to implement the Feb. 13 agreement, saying it would invite the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delegation to the country once it retrieves the US$25 million in funds frozen in Macao's Banco Delta Asia.
"The DPRK remains unchanged in its will to implement the Feb. 13 agreement, but what matters is that it cannot move as the issue of frozen funds has not yet been completely settled," Ri Je-son, director of the General Department of Atomic Energy of the DPRK, said in a reply to IAEA Director-General Mohamed elBaradei's request for a visit by the IAEA delegation to the DPRK.
Ri said the DPRK decided to suspend operations at the nuclear facility in Yongbyon on the premise that the US unfreezes the DPRK's funds in the Banco Delta Asia in Macao within 30 days after publication of the Feb. 13 agreement.
"Working negotiations are now brisk between a DPRK bank and the above-said bank to settle the issue," Ri said.
"The DPRK is ready to invite (the IAEA delegation) the moment the actual unfreezing of the frozen funds in the bank has been confirmed," he added.
Under the agreement adopted by the six parties during their latest talks on Feb. 13, the DPRK was supposed to shut down and seal the Yongbyon facilities within 60 days in exchange for 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil or equivalent aid. The deadline to shut down the nuclear plant passed on April 14.
(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency April 21, 2007)