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North Korea Confirms Kim Visit to China


North Korea's official news agency has announced that the country's leader, Kim Jong Il, has completed a trip to China - the first official confirmation of the visit. Chinese state media also report that Mr. Kim met with top Chinese officials.

The evening news broadcast on North Korean state-run television confirmed what diplomats and correspondents in the Chinese capital had been speculating about for days.

The announcer says that Mr. Kim paid an unofficial visit to China from January 10 to the 18 at the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Japanese television, during the past week, had showed grainy video images of a person believed to be the North Korean leader, as well as glimpses of motorcades said to be transporting Mr. Kim to various meetings in southern Guangdong province and Beijing.

China's state-owned Xinhua news agency says President Hu accompanied Mr. Kim to a crop research institute and that the North Korean leader met with other top Chinese officials.

The official North Korean central news agency says Mr. Kim and President Hu agreed that their countries would "contribute to the peaceful resolution of the Korean Peninsula's nuclear issue by continually pursuing the six-way talks process."

The news service report also says Mr. Kim called for the Chinese leader to join him "to overcome the difficulties in the six-way talks and to find a way to move forward."

In September, in the first joint statement to be issued during the six-nation nuclear talks, North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear programs in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

But the November meeting of the six parties - both Koreas, host China, the United States, Japan and Russia - failed to make further progress.

North Korea last month announced it would boycott the negotiations until Washington lifts sanctions imposed for alleged counterfeiting and money laundering.