April 01, 2010 08:51
Speculation continues that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il will imminently visit China. A senior South Korean government official on Wednesday said Seoul is paying close attention. Attention now focuses on early April, before the North Korean Supreme People's Assembly opens on April 9.
A South Korean security official said, "In 2004, Kim crossed the Apnok (or Yalu) River three days after we found out about his plan to visit China. But in 2007, he just went to [the border city of] Sinuiju and returned."
Since he took power, Kim had visited China four times -- in 2000, 2001, 2004, and 2006. The last visit was in April 2006. Topics to be discussed could include economic aid from China and the North's return to the six-party nuclear talks. It will be interesting to see if he is accompanied by his son and heir apparent Jong-un.
China's official Xinhua news agency on Wednesday said Xu Caihou, the vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, held talks with a North Korean military delegation led by Maj. Gen. An Yong-gi in Beijing on Tuesday.
A North Korean source speculated, "An and his delegation may have discussed protocol and security as an advance party for Kim."
Kim is said to have been in Pyongyang since he had dinner with new Chinese ambassador to the North Liu Hongcai in Pyongyang on Monday. Liu is likely to accompany Kim on his visit.
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