N.Korea foreign minister dies

Jan. 3, 2007 at 5:57 AM
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PYONGYANG, North Korea, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun has died at 78, the country's state media said Wednesday.

The one-sentence dispatch from the (North's) Korean Central News Agency did not provide any more details, including when or how he died. It just said North Korean leader Kim Jong Il expressed his condolences over Paek's death.

"Kim sent a wreath to the bier of late Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun, deputy to the DPRK (North Korea) Supreme People's Assembly, expressing deep condolences over his death," the report said.

Paek has been the North's top diplomat since 1998. He was born in Ryanggang Province in 1929, and graduated from Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang.

He was reportedly suffering from chronic kidney problems and received medical treatment in Malaysia in July 2006.

Paek's death came as tensions are running high on the Korean peninsula following the North's Oct. 9 nuclear test.

Officials and analysts in Seoul said Paek's death would not bring about a major change in the North's foreign policy because his deputies, Kang Sok Ju and Kim Kye Gwan, have been in charge.

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