China con­firms visit of North Korean leader

The Pak Banker - - International -

BEI­JING: China con­firmed to for­eign di­plo­mats in Bei­jing on Mon­day that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had vis­ited the coun­try, Ja­pan's Ky­odo news agency said, as Chi­nese state me­dia praised ties with the iso­lated coun­try.

A source told Reuters at the week­end that Kim and his youngest son --his pre­sumed heir --were on a trip to China but there has been no of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion from ei­ther govern­ment. Ky­odo, cit­ing diplo­matic sources, said the Chi­nese For­eign Min­istry "ex­plained to some Bei­jing-based di­plo­mats the visit of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to the coun­try." The re­port said that Kim had met Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Hu Jin­tao, adding that Kim was ex­pected to go back to North Korea later in the day.

In the past, China and North Korea have only pub­licly con­firmed Kim's vis­its af­ter he has re­turned home.

A Chi­nese-lan­guage news­pa­per nonethe­less lauded re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries on Mon­day.

"Main­tain­ing and sta­bi­liz­ing the cur­rent re­la­tion­ship be­tween China and North Korea is of max­i­mum ben­e­fit to China," the pop­u­lar tabloid the Global Times said in an ed­i­to­rial. China is the only ma­jor sup­porter for North Korea, which is largely iso­lat- ed from the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity over its nu­clear weapons pro­gramme and which has come un­der fur­ther con­dem­na­tion af­ter South Korea ac­cused it of sink­ing one of its war­ships ear­lier this year.

China's of­fi­cial Xin­hua news agency also praised ties be­tween the two, es­pe­cially the bonds forged be­tween their peo­ple dur­ing the 1950-53 Korean War.

"Those who sac­ri­ficed their lives for the China-DPRK (North Korea) friend­ship should be re­mem­bered gen­er­a­tion af­ter gen­er­a­tion, par­tic­u­larly at a time of chang­ing and com­pli­cated re­gional sit­u­a­tions," it said in an English­language com­men­tary.

Kim, 68 and who rarely trav­els abroad, is re­port­edly in China for the sec­ond time this year. This time he is thought to have brought along his youngest son Kim Jong-un, widely seen as the next head of the fam­ily dy­nasty that has led North Korea since its found­ing more than 60 years ago.

On Mon­day, po­lice lined the streets in Tu­men, a city on China's border with North Korea, in a sign that Kim may visit there or pass through on his way home. Kim may be lin­ing up China be­hind suc­ces­sion plans in­volv­ing his son, for­eign an­a­lysts have said. -PB News

COPI­APO: Chile's Min­ing Min­is­ter Lau­rence Gol­borne (L) and An­dre Sougar­ret speak at a news con­fer­ence at the mine. -Reuters

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