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N. Korean Leader Expected to Meet with Chinese President


Chinese officials appear to be catering to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's demands for secrecy, and refuse to say if he is in the country. However, foreign journalists took photos of Mr. Kim in northern China.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu gave a very brief answer to the question that dominated Tuesday's news briefing - is North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in China?

Jiang says she understands foreign reporters are interested in the issue, but said she does not have any information to offer.

She neither confirmed nor denied the abundant media reports that Mr. Kim and his armored train entered China on Monday. The reports include news photos of Mr. Kim in northeastern China and accounts of stepped-up security along the train's route.

Mr. Kim's travels are always shrouded in heavy secrecy. Official confirmation of previous visits to China only came afterwards.

Jiang responded to a question about whether China will follow past practice on Mr. Kim's trip by saying high-level visits are always determined by consultation between both countries.

Jiang does not go so far as to confirm the visit, but she says that every country makes what she describes as "appropriate arrangements according to the actual situation" of each visit.

The spokeswoman said China and North Korea are good and friendly neighbors. Chinese leader Mao Zedong once described the two countries as being "as close as lips and teeth."

In 1950, China joined North Korean Communist forces in the war against U.S.-supported South Korea.

Regional political analysts say some of the issues that Mr. Kim and Chinese leaders are likely to discuss are economic aid to impoverished North Korea, and its leadership succession.

Another major issue is the six-party talks, which aim to end Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programs.

Pyongyang walked out of the talks a year ago and shortly afterward carried out a nuclear test. The United Nations Security Council responded by imposing sanctions.

The talks involve the United States, North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia.

Jiang repeated Beijing's call for the resumption of the six-party talks, and urged all countries involved - including North Korea - to work toward that end.

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