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In Visit, North Korea Leader Highlights Military Success, Stability

North Korean Prime Minister Kim Yong Il boasted to Honorary Cambodian People's Party President Heng Samrin of his nation's military success and its role in stability and economic growth, an adviser told VOA Khmer during meetings Friday.

Kim Yong Il—no relation to "supreme leader" King Jong Il—declined to comment on the alleged remarks.

North Korea and Cambodia signed bilateral trade and shipping agreements Thursday that built on traditional warm relations.

But Kim's visit, the first such visit in six years, gained little traction in Cambodia's whimsical press, despite the questions it could have raised on nuclear issues, as well as the political and economic value and liability of trade and shipping agreements signed between Phnom Penh and Pyongyang.

Small articles with large photos of the North Korean leader and Prime Minister Hun Sen bedecked front pages of ruling party papers, but the opposition press showed little interest.

Heng Samrin adviser Koam Kosal told reporters after the meetings the North Korean prime minister had discussed military-led policies that benefited the country "by leaving it more time to think of developing the economy."

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Prime Minister Hun Sen urged North Korea to settle its problems with Japan over the abduction of some Japanese during war.

"Another important issue is that some Japanese people were held as a hostage," Khieu Kanharith said. "That is what the prime minister thinks is vital and should be settled for dual benefit: good cooperation between Japan and North Korea and less tension in the region."

Yoshimatsu Kaori, third secretary to Japan's ambassador to Cambodia, said Japan supported bilateral relations between Pyongyang and Phnom Penh.

Japan has been Cambodia's largest donor since the 1993 elections and is a neighbor to North Korea.