News / Asia

China Confirms Visit by Kim Jong Il

Chinese state television is confirming a visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. This is the first official comment on the trip since Mr. Kim arrived in China last week.

A report on Chinese television broke the official silence on whether Kim Jong Il was in China. The confirmation of Mr. Kim's trip also means he has likely left China, since in the past, Beijing has not acknowledged his visits until he has returned home.

The CCTV report quoted Mr. Kim as saying he remains committed to a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

The TV announcer quotes Mr. Kim as saying North Korea hopes to maintain close communication and coordination with China to promote an early resumption of Six Party talks on persuading Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons.

The talks include the United States, North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia. Pyongyang walked out of the talks more than a year ago, and shortly afterward carried out a nuclear test.

Mr. Kim is reported to have arrived Thursday in China. He visited several northeastern Chinese cities, including Jilin, Changchun and Harbin. The 68-year-old Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008. He rarely travels, but this was his second trip to China this year.

The highlight of the North Korean leader's trip was a meeting Friday with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Shi Yinhong, international relations professor at Renmin University, said he thinks this meeting was one of Mr. Kim's top demands.

"He (Kim) will not meet anyone below (lower-ranking than) him, if he has not met Hu Jintao," Shi said.

The Chinese report did not mention Mr. Kim's son, Kim Jong Un, who is reported to have accompanied his father.

Many North Korea experts believe the son will be appointed to a key party position at a ruling Workers' Party meeting early next month. They say Mr. Kim may be seeking China's support for his son, before the meeting.

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