US ready to work with new regime as N Korea mourns

Washington said it wants to work with the new regime when the mourning period ends next week.

Updated: Dec 23, 2011, 10:29 AM IST

Seoul: North Korea on Friday burnished the image
of its past and present leaders amid wintry scenes of mass
grief, as Washington said it wants to work with the new regime
when the mourning period ends next week.

"Please come back to the people you loved so much," the
state news agency quoted an army officer as saying as he
viewed the body of late leader Kim Jong-Il, lying in state
under a glass coffin.

Official media has reported mass mourning, said to
involve five million people in Pyongyang alone, since Kim`s
death was announced Monday and his youngest son Jong-Un was
proclaimed as successor.

Even nature is heartbroken, according to the news agency,
which in its characteristic style reported freak weather
phenomena at his mystical birthplace and a Manchurian crane
adopting a posture of grief.

It reported that "a series of blinding blue flashes" had
been seen. "The demise of Kim Jong-Il was so heart-rending
that even the sky seemed to writhe in grief," it said. "He was
indeed a great saint born of Heaven."

Kim Jong-Il and his father Kim Il-Sung, who ruled the
communist nation with an iron fist from its creation in 1948,
were the subject of an extravagant personality cult.

The latest dynastic ruler, aged in his late 20s, is also
being showered with praise but remains a figure of mystery to
the outside world, which is seeking clues to future policy in
the nuclear-armed nation.

He was pictured yesterday weeping at his father`s coffin.
"Respected comrade Kim Jong-Un is another great general
who carried the bloodline of Mangyongdae, and a great sun,"
government newspaper Minju Joson said on Friday.

Mangyongdae is held sacred as the birthplace of Kim
Il-Sung. The phrase "great sun" was previously reserved for
Jong-Un`s father and grandfather.

Ruling party paper Rodong Sinmun called for unity around
"great comrade" Jong-Un.

It said the North would try to strengthen friendships
with other nations while bolstering its military power.

"We should further strengthen the combat power of the
People`s Army to sternly and mercilessly crush any
provocations by enemies," it said.

Analysts expect little political upheaval following the
death -- at least for now -- since regime members have an
interest in preserving the status quo.

The United States, which fought on the South`s side in
the 1950-53 Korean War, said it wants to work with the new
regime when a 13-day mourning period ends next Thursday.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was cautious
about the future of any diplomatic efforts but said Washington
hoped in the future to resume dialogue over possible US food
aid. "Obviously, we want to continue working on these issues,"
Nuland told reporters, referring to the discussions.

PTI