North Korea’s Kim reported to be in Beijing for talks with Chinese leaders
BEIJING – North Korean leader Kim Jong Il reportedly arrived Tuesday in Beijing for talks with President Hu Jintao on resuming stalled negotiations aimed at ending the North’s nuclear development.Kim is believed to have spent nearly a week visiting China’s booming south on a study tour of economic reform before his reported arrival in Beijing, which a Foreign Ministry spokesman said he could not confirm.A 40-car motorcade believed to be carrying the secretive leader arrived Tuesday morning at a government guesthouse in Beijing, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported, citing unidentified witnesses and diplomatic sources.Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said he could not confirm whether Kim was in the country, though he said Hu planned to meet with at least one foreign leader over the next two days.China usually announces visits by Kim only after he is on his way home.Japan’s Kyodo News agency said a limousine possibly carrying a Chinese leader was spotted entering the guesthouse. The report said there were signs later of an official reception at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of China’s parliament in Beijing.Beijing is under U.S. pressure to use its status as the North’s main aid donor to press it to return to the six-nation talks, which began in 2003. The other participants are South Korea, Japan and Russia.The North promised in September to give up nuclear development in exchange for aid and a security guarantee, but the process has been stalled since November, with Pyongyang accusing the United States of a hostile attitude.Kyodo, citing unidentified sources, reported on Tuesday evening that Kim had left Beijing to return to North Korea.Kim, who rarely ventures abroad, is believed to have crossed into China a week ago. It was his first known trip to his regime’s only major ally since 2004. He also made a pair of visits to China in 2001.Kim apparently went first to the south, where he visited high-tech companies in a possible search for ideas to revive his country’s impoverished economy, which relies on foreign aid to feed its 23 million people.Kim’s train stopped at a station outside Beijing early Tuesday and he was driven into the capital, according to Yonhap and Hong Kong’s Ta Kung Pao newspaper.Also Tuesday, the North said it would not return to talks until the United States lifts sanctions on the country.Washington last year sanctioned North Korean companies accused of weapons proliferation and a bank in the Chinese territory of Macau that it said helped Pyongyang with illegal activities.”It is unthinkable for the DPRK to negotiate the nuclear issue with the party seeking to isolate and stifle it while being exposed to sanctions,” the official Korean Central News Agency said, referring to the North by the initials of its formal name.
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