Reports: NKorean Leader Kim to Meet Top Beijing Officials During Rare Trip to China
It’s now been all but confirmed that Kim Jong-il is in China and preparing to meet with top officials in coming days. From AP:
In Dalian, Kim reportedly toured an automobile-manufacturing factory, a shipbuilding yard and port facilities and is believed to have met Vice Premier Li Keqiang at a banquet Monday night. He is expected to travel on to Beijing aboard his train for talks with top Chinese leaders including President Hu Jintao as early as Tuesday night, Seoul’s mass-circulation Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported citing an unidentified diplomatic source in Beijing.
The Dong-a Ilbo newspaper in Seoul carried a similar report. YTN television network, however, said Chinese officials may visit Dalian to meet Kim because a 12-hour railroad journey from Dalian to Beijing could be a burden for Kim who suffered a reported stroke in 2008.
Kim’s visit, if confirmed, comes at an awkward time for Beijing. The Chinese leadership has been trying to get Kim to agree to return to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks stalled now for a year, and believed that it had won the North Korean dictator’s assent last October.
See also “Kim Jong Il Shown Limping at Start of Visit to China (Update1)” from Bloomberg.