North leader’s visit to China appears imminent

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North leader’s visit to China appears imminent

A trip to China by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il appears imminent, multiple sources from South Korea and China said yesterday.

The North’s leader “has not crossed into China yet, but it appears highly likely that his Chinese trip would come either today or tomorrow as a considerable level of preparations have been done,” a source said on condition of anonymity.

The source did not provide specifics.

An official from Seoul’s foreign ministry, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the government has detected signs of Kim’s imminent trip to the North’s ally.

“We have seen some signs and we are now closely monitoring the situation,” the official said.

A diplomatic source in China’s border city of Dandong said the Chinese police have ordered hotels there to empty their facilities and beefed up security for three days starting on Saturday.

Some of the hotels in the city are considered good observation posts for foreign journalists when the North Korean leader crosses the border by train.

One of the hotels, which commands an excellent view of the cross-border railway over the Yalu River, has been told to evict all its guests and cancel all reservations, the source said.

Kim’s long-speculated trip to China had been expected to raise the prospects of reopening six-nation talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear programs. But such chances were thrown into doubt in the wake of the sinking of a South Korean naval ship in waters near North Korea.

The communist nation is a primary suspect in the sinking, though it denies responsibility.

A foreign diplomatic source in Seoul earlier said the resumption of the six-way nuclear negotiations will likely be delayed until the results of an ongoing investigation into the ship sinking are known.

“All evidence points to a torpedo. The question is ‘Who is it?,’ but there are not too many likely candidates there,” the source said. “I think we need a little bit of a pause in efforts to restart the six-party talks.”

The nuclear talks, involving both South Korea and the North, the United States, Japan, China and Russia, were last held in December 2008.

If Kim goes to China, he is expected to seek aid to support the North’s crumbling economy.


Yonhap
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장용훈 기자= 북한 김정일 국방위원장의 중국 방문은 1994년 7월 김일성 주석이 사망하고 명실상부한 북한 통치자가 된 이후 이번이 다섯 번째이며, 지난 2006년 1월 10∼18일 방중 이후 4년4개월 만이다.

김 위원장의 이전 네 차례 중국 방문형식은 모두 '비공식 방문'이었다는 점에서 이번에도 동일한 형식이 될 것으로 보인다.

후진타오(胡錦濤) 국가주석과 장쩌민(江澤民) 전 국가주석의 초청으로 이뤄졌음에도 불구하고 일정을 공개하지 않고 방문 일정을 마친 뒤에야 방중사실이 공개됐다.

김 위원장의 경호 문제에 극도로 신경을 곤두세우는 북한 체제의 특성상 의전을 최소화하면서 동선을 노출하지 않아도 된다는 장점을 감안한 것으로 분석된다.

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