BEIJING, Aug 12, 2010 (AFP) - China said Thursday it had offered to help North Korea tackle cross-border crime - two months after North Korean soldiers killed three suspected Chinese smugglers, raising tensions between the allies.
Beijing, Pyongyang's most important ally and trading partner, said it had handed over military equipment to North Korea's National Defence Commission during a visit by China's Deputy Public Security Minister Liu Jing on Sunday.
China said in a statement that it was willing to work with North Korea in cracking down on cross-border crime and building up its law enforcement forces. The statement gave no details of what type of equipment China had provided or which type of crimes could be targeted.
Three Chinese nationals were killed and one injured when North Korean border forces opened fire along the shared frontier on June 4, prompting China to protest to Pyongyang in a rare show of discord between the allies.
North Korea expressed condolences over the deaths and vowed to "severely punish" those responsible, Chinese state media reported.
International law enforcement officials say North Korea's moribund economy has turned it into a centre for drug trade, counterfeiting and sex trafficking.
Beijing's most visible step against Pyongyang came five years ago when state-run Bank of China froze North Korean accounts in Macau - part of 25 million dollars seized in response to US accusations of money laundering and counterfeiting.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il labeled the move an economic sanction and it prompted one of Pyongyang's many walkouts from the six-party talks, which began in 2003 with the aim of halting North Korea's nuclear programme.
The talks, hosted by China, also involve North and South Korea, the United States, Japan and Russia.