October 18, 2010 11:58
Chinese President Hu Jintao is unlikely to visit North Korea this year, leading to speculation that the first visit to China by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's son Kim Jong-un since he was officially established as his father's heir will have to wait too. The assumption is based on the custom of alternating visits between the leaders of the two countries.
A high-ranking diplomat in Beijing said on Sunday Hu's schedule is packed until the early next year, including the G20 Seoul Summit in November, and Kim senior is in bad health after a stroke, so the chances of Hu visiting North Korea at the end of the year are "almost zero."
Hu invited the new North Korean party leadership to China through a politburo bigwig who attended the 65th anniversary of the North Korean Workers Party on Oct. 10, and Kim returned the invitation. Diplomats predict that Hu or Vice President Xi Jinping will visit North Korea in the first half of next year and the Kims will pay a return visit to China after that.
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