January 05, 2010 09:30
Effective midnight on Tuesday, special security is being imposed in Dandong, on the Chinese border with North Korea, Free North Korea Radio reported Monday. The security upgrade is seen as heralding a long-expected visit to China by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
Citing sources, Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper on Thursday said back-to-back visits to China by key North Korean officials after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's trip to North Korea last October "appear related to steps to fine-tune the agenda ahead of Kim's visit." The daily added Kim is highly likely to visit China at the end of this month.
On Dec. 22, the Yomiuri Shimbun also speculated Kim will visit China in January or February this year. But an inside source said, "The chances are slim that Kim Jong-il, who suffered a stroke, will travel to China during the winter." One North Korean defector said, "The special security level being imposed in Dandong may have nothing to do with Kim Jong-il's visit to China."
The North Korean leader has visited China four times so far -- in 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2006 -- with two of those trips taking place in January.
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