Jong-un highly eager to visit Beijing

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Jong-un highly eager to visit Beijing

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wants to visit China this summer, but Chinese President Xi Jinping didn’t give a clear response, a Chinese-language online report said.

DWnews.com, a New York-based online news Web site, said yesterday that before the three-day trip of Kim’s special envoy Choe Ryong-hae to China last week, Kim conveyed a message to Xi through diplomatic channels that he hoped to visit Beijing before September.

Kim expected envoy Choe to receive a response from Xi, the Web site said, citing some Chinese officials, and even hoped for a specific schedule. But Xi and the officials beneath him didn’t respond. Kim mentioned his desire to visit China in the handwritten letter to Xi that was carried by Choe, the report said.

“The letter Choe gave Xi when they met on [Friday] contained this request,” the report said, citing a source in Beijing. “But the Chinese side only said they ‘understood’ the message and didn’t give any concrete response.”

The report said Choe, who is director of the General Political Bureau of the North Korean army and a close aide to Kim, had three missions during his visit. The first was to start arranging a visit to China by Kim Jong-un. The second was to explain to Xi why Pyongyang carried out its recent military provocations, including the tests of short-range missiles last week despite international condemnation. And the third was to express North Korea’s willingness to resume dialogue with the outside world, including the six-party talks. The report speculated that Kim believed China would OK his request for a visit in the next three months. And if it did, the report said, Kim was planning to offer “a great present” to Xi, such as abandoning his nuclear weapons program.

When Choe and Xi met Friday, Xi put emphasis on the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” but Choe did not mention that issue. Instead, Choe sought China’s cooperation to arrange a dialogue with concerning countries. Relations between the two communist allies have been on rocky ground since the North’s successful launch of a long-range ballistic rocket in December. The recent two-week seizure of Chinese fishermen by North Korea further cooled relations with China, its biggest trading partner and closest ally.

In April, North Korea called for a special envoy from China but Beijing refused, publicly saying if Pyongyang wanted a dialogue, it should send an envoy.

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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