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N Korea’s Kim ‘to meet China’s Hu’

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, wearing a pair of glasses, gets into a vehicle as he leaves a hotel in Dalian, northeastern China, on Monday May 3, 2010.

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North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il, is expected to meet Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, in Beijing amid heightened tensions with South Korea.

Kim is also set to meet other senior officials in the Chinese capital on Wednesday as he continues a visit that neither North Korea nor China has officially confirmed.

However, Japanese and South Korean media reported on Wednesday that a train carrying Kim had arrived in the eastern port city of Tianjin, one of China’s special economic zones focused on manufacturing and exports.

Kim reportedly inspected a port under construction outside Dalian on Tuesday – a city seen as a model of China’s economic development.

Analysts have said that China could use the trip to press Kim to return to six-party nuclear disarmament talks he quit in April last year. The talks group China, the US, Japan, Russia, and the two Koreas.

The North has come under pressure to return to talks due to UN sanctions imposed after a May 2009 nuclear test that have dealt another blow to its already shaky economy.

A 2004 trip to China led to a push for talks on the North’s nuclear programme.

‘Inter-Korean matter’

However, the as-yet unexplained sinking of a South Korean naval ship in March, which killed 46 sailors, has made an early resumption of the six-party talks less likely.

Lee Myung-bak said the sinking of the warship was no ‘simple accident’ [AFP]

On Tuesday, South Korea’s president said the sinking of the ship was no “simple accident”, and for the first time made it clear that he considered the incident linked to the North.

“What is obvious so far is that the Cheonan did not sink due to a simple accident,” Lee Myung-bak said at a meeting of senior military commanders in Seoul, where he ordered a “full-fledged” review of his country’s military readiness.

Although Seoul has never directly blamed its neighbour for the sinking and Pyongyang has denied involvement, suspicion has focused on the North.

“As soon as the incident occurred, I sensed it was a grave international and inter-Korean matter,” Lee said in the nationally-televised speech.

Kim’s previous trips to China have led to steps that have reduced security concerns between the two Koreas.

In 2000, Kim’s trip was soon followed by a summit in Pyongyang with South Korea’s leader and the start of two major joint development projects in the North.

Analysts say Beijing wants to prevent an escalation of military tension but is unlikely to punish its neighbour even if it were found to be behind the attack on the South Korean warship.

However, regional observers say Kim may want to focus on immediate economic concerns instead of tensions with South Korea.

China is a crucial economic ally of its much smaller neighbour and Kim is even more reliant on China’s help now, after a botched currency reform at the end of last year worsened inflation and sparked rare civil unrest that raised questions about Kim’s grip on power.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, wearing a pair of glasses, gets into a vehicle as he leaves a hotel in Dalian, northeastern China, on Monday May 3, 2010. A luxury 17-car train believed to be carrying reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Il pulled into China on Monday, reports said, in what would be his first journey abroad in years as his regime faces a worsening economy and speculation that it may have torpedoed a South Korean warship.

https://i2.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/07LpgmOfo8f2t/610x.jpg

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, wearing a pair of glasses, gets into a vehicle as he leaves a hotel in Dalian, northeastern China, on Monday May 3, 2010. A luxury 17-car train believed to be carrying reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Il pulled into China on Monday, reports said, in what would be his first journey abroad in years as his regime faces a worsening economy and speculation that it may have torpedoed a South Korean warship.

https://i0.wp.com/cache.daylife.com/imageserve/02qG9fdf9keWR/x610.jpg

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, wearing a pair of glasses, leaves a hotel in Dalian, northeastern China, on Monday May 3, 2010. A luxury 17-car train believed to be carrying reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong Il pulled into China on Monday, reports said, in what would be his first journey abroad in years as his regime faces a worsening economy and speculation that it may have torpedoed a South Korean warship.

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A vehicle, which is part of a convoy carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, leaves Tianjin railway station at Tianjin municipality May 5, 2010. Kim toured the Chinese port city of Tianjin on Wednesday ahead of talks with government leaders expected to focus on reviving the North’s feeble economy.

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A passenger uses a mobile phone to take photos of security and an empty square before the arrival of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s convoy at Tianjin railway station at Tianjin municipality May 5, 2010. Kim toured the Chinese port city of Tianjin on Wednesday ahead of talks with government leaders expected to focus on reviving the North’s feeble economy.

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Chinese police guard the entrance to the Furama hotel in Dalian, northeast China’s Liaoning province on May 4, 2010, where North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Il is staying. Kim was reportedly heading to Beijing for talks likely to centre on desperately-needed aid for sanctions-hit Pyongyang and stalled nuclear disarmament negotiations.

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