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Briefly - Asia
N. Korean leader visits China
JILIN, China | North Korean reclusive leader Kim Jong-il is visiting powerful ally China, possibly with his son and heir apparent, South Korean government sources said Thursday, ahead of a meeting that may settle Mr. Kim’s succession.
South Korean officials have said Mr. Kim appears to be visiting northeast China. There have been no iron-clad sightings of the paunchy, frizzle-haired 68-year-old, but a hotel in the northeast city of Jilin was under heavy police guard on Thursday night, blocked off to reporters and ordinary residents - a practice seen in Kim’s past visits and perhaps a sign he is staying there.
Mr. Kim may be seeking China’s acceptance of succession plans.
The ruling Workers' Party, which rubber-stamps major policy decisions in the secretive North, is holding a rare meeting in September at which the assembly could set in motion the succession of the leader’s son, Kim Jong-un, analysts say.
There is widespread speculation that the elder Mr. Kim is in poor health after a suspected stroke in 2008 and some analysts say he may be in a hurry to establish his son’s succession to the family dynasty that has ruled North Korea since its founding after World War II.
SEOUL | China’s top nuclear envoy Wu Dawei met his South Korean counterpart Thursday and said that six-party nuclear disarmament talks were still an “effective” tool to achieve peace in Northeast Asia.
Mr. Wu said he had “deep and trustful discussions about the issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula” with South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy, Wi Sung-Lac, on the first day of a three-day visit to Seoul.
“We think six-party talks are an effective resolution to achieve denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and achieve peace in Northeast Asia,” the Chinese envoy told reporters.
Mr. Wu visited Pyongyang last week to discuss the resumption of the talks, which the North quit in April 2009 in protest at the U.N.’s condemnation of an apparent missile test.
South Korea has been reluctant to resume the talks unless the North shows a sincere willingness to disarm and admits sinking one of Seoul’s warships in March with the loss of 46 lives.
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