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North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il Reportedly in Beijing


A stretch limousine believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Il drives ahead of a convoy of cars traveling towards the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, May 25, 2011

A stretch limousine believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Il drives ahead of a convoy of cars traveling towards the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, May 25, 2011

There are media reports North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has arrived in Beijing, the latest in a series of stops during a typically secretive visit that began Friday. The Chinese government has given a rare acknowledgement that Kim is in the country.

The North Korean leader typically meets with top Chinese officials, including President Hu Jintao, when he visits Beijing. Kim’s armored train entourage entered northeastern China on Friday and is reported to also have visited industrial and tourist sites in eastern China.

Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences Korean Studies Director Lu Chao says it makes sense that Kim would pass through Beijing on his way back to North Korea.

Lu says if Kim visits Beijing, the Chinese president, in his words, has to meet with him because the leaders of the two countries want to maintain close contact.

Lu says he expects the two sides will discuss what he described as the current tense situation on the Korean peninsula.

He says there are problems with North Korea’s economic development and food shortages.

North Korea experts say Kim also is attempting to shore-up Chinese support for his son and heir apparent, Kim Jong Un. Lu says knowledgeable friends have told him Kim did not bring his son to China this time. But he says he thinks the younger Kim should have come along, to take part in more international events because he represents North Korea’s next generation of leadership.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is quoted as saying the North Korean leader is studying China’s economic development. He made his comments in Japan, where he was meeting with South Korean and Japanese leaders.

When asked about Kim at the regular Foreign Ministry briefing Tuesday, spokeswoman Jiang Yu gave what has become a standard answer.

She referred to the North Korean leader without naming him, and said the arrangements for his trip are made in accordance with usual practice and out of respect for the visiting leader.

During Kim’s previous two trips to China within the past year, the Chinese government made no official confirmation of his visit until after the North Korean leader had left the country.

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