Burma revels in Kim Jong Il

Feb 9, 2010 (DVB), The many faces of bilateral diplomacy were on show last week as the Burmese junta lauded Kim Jong Il at a film screening to mark the 'Dear Leader' of North Korea's birthday.

Aung Thaung, chairman of the Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA), a government proxy organization and expected election runner, took the podium to "laud the leadership exploits" of the Korean dictator, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"[Kim Jong Il] glorified 2009 as a year of great changes to be specially recorded in the history of Korea and is making ceaseless journey of field guidance to various fields of the national economy from the very start of 2010," KCNA quoted Aung Thaung as saying.

The US has expressed concern about the apparently warming relations between Burma and North Korea, both of which are subject to international sanctions.

Celebrations were also held in the autocratic African state of Guinea, where a military government is also in power.

"Abdoulaye Conte, chief of the Guinean Group for the Study of Kimjongilism, said that the [North Korea]’s is a most advantageous and powerful socialism enjoying unquestionable support and confidence from the people".

The North Korean leader, who assumed power in 1994 after the death of his father, Kim Il-sung, and inherited a 'personality cult' in which he is deified in media and school textbooks. Many North Koreans believe he can control the weather through his mood.

International concern over Burma's ties to North Korea centre on alleged arms links, which some whistleblowers believe could turn nuclear. Bilateral relations came under major scrutiny last year when the US navy trailed a North Korean cargo ship, the Kang Nam, which it believed carried weapons and was destined for Burma.

US secretary of state Hilary Clinton followed the incident by saying that she took "very seriously" the signs of a strengthening relationship, and warned: "It would be destabilizing for the region. It would pose a direct threat to Burma’s neighbours."

These fears were heightened by the revelation that Burma was developing a series of tunnels, with North Korean help, that could be used for military purposes.

Reporting by Joseph Allchin

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