The arrival in Jakarta of North Korea’s second-ranking leader, Kim Yong-nam, has prompted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to urge the isolated state to pursue democratization and respect human rights, as pressured by activists. Kim, the president of North Korea’s Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly will be received at Merdeka Place followed by a bilateral meeting to discuss geopolitical issues in the region.

Indonesia, a member of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, describes this opportunity as its international obligation to promote human rights, especially in North Korea where famine has caused six million deaths and imprisonment without due trial is rampant. Indonesian leaders believe that persuading North Korea to end its nuclear programme, promote democracy and reunite with South Korea will be a “diplomatic victory” on their part.

The visit will not affect Indonesia’s relationship with South Korea, presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said, citing the country’s good relationship with North Korea since 1961. North Korea raised alarms in the region after launching a rocket that is believed to be part of a nuclear missile technology testing program.