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France to Open "Cooperation Bureau" in North Korea

North Korea remains one of the world’s most isolated regimes, not least because of its rogue nuclear program. The country remains desperately short of everything from food to energy, and its traditional allies, Russia and China, have been quietly but persistently distancing themselves.

France, broadening its diplomatic endeavors under President Sarkozy, is to open its “Cooperation Bureau” in Pyongyang, Le Monde reported.

The French Foreign Ministry's Asia desk has nominated Olivier Vaysset to represent French interests. Vaysset, who was hitherto the Quai d'Orsay (French Foreign Ministry) correspondent at the General Directorate of External Security (DGSE,) has served in Asia, including having been cultural adviser at the French Embassy in Singapore. Vaysset will open the bureau in Pyongyang in September.

The “Cooperation Bureau” initiative builds on nearly two years of diplomatic initiatives by the Sarkozy administration, which in November 2009 tasked former Socialist minister Jack Lang with visiting North Korea to examine the potential for a possible dialogue with the regime. Lang subsequently recommended opening the bureau.

The initiative unsettled some of North Korea’s neighbors, with Japan expressing its anxiety and requesting explanations from Paris about the endeavor. Further apprehension about implementation the recommendation also came from French Government officials, a number of whom opposed dispatching a diplomat and considered the opening of the bureau "premature."

By. Charles Kennedy, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com



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