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Kim Jong-il on way to Russia via China

January 11, 2006

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SEOUL/BEIJING, Jan 10: North Korean leader Kim Jong-il passed through China on Tuesday on the way to Russia, a source with knowledge of the stopover said. South Korean and Japanese media said Mr Kim was making a secret visit to China.

“He passed through China. He left today for Russia,” the source said. “He did not meet any (Chinese) leaders,” the source said, adding that Mr Kim may stop over in China on his way home.

There was unusually heavy security near the train station in the Chinese border city of Dandong and talk of a special train from North Korea passing through before dawn on Tuesday, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said, quoting a source in the city.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency had a similar report quoting diplomatic sources in Beijing.

Asked if Mr Kim was in China, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan said he had not been authorized to release specific information.

“But I want to point out that China and North Korea are friendly neighbours and maintain a tradition of exchanges of high-level visits,” he told a regular news conference.

Asked if there were plans for such a visit, he said: “Yes.”

South Korea’s presidential Blue House also could not confirm the trip, which would come as regional powers, including China and Russia, seek to nudge the North back into talks on its nuclear ambitions.

Chinese President Hu Jintao visited North Korea in October on a trip that was seen as underscoring Beijing’s role in persuading Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programmes.—Reuters