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Kim Jong-il makes rare port visit

Seoul: North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has visited Rason, a northern port city that the country is developing into a trade hub, where he gave guidelines on increasing exports, state media said Thursday.
The visit was Kim's first to the city since it was named a free trade zone nearly two decades ago.  
North Korea designated Rason and nearby Sonbong, on the country's northernmost coast close to both China and Russia, as an economic free trade zone in 1991, but foreign investment never materialized and senior officials who spearheaded the project were reportedly ousted.?In recent years, however, the North has begun to try and reinvigorate the trade zone, signing an accord with Russia to rebuild railways and the port there. Russia invested 140 million euro in the Rason project late last year.?It is also believed that the North reached an agreement with China to develop Rason into an international logistics hub. In 2007, the allies drew up plans to build new roads there connecting the area with China's Hunchun. Rason is also known as Rajin, the old name of the city.  [17/12/09]?

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