China quiet over Kim's 'visit to see president'
CHINA kept silent yesterday about a reported visit by North Korea's secretive leader, Kim Jong-Il, that analysts say appears intended to line up Beijing behind his dynastic succession plans. Coinciding with the unconfirmed trip, former US President Jimmy Carter left Pyongyang yesterday with an American, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who was arrested in January and sentenced to eight years of hard labour for illegally entering North Korea.
There was no indication that Mr Carter met Kim. State media in the North said number two leader Kim Yong-nam had told Mr Carter that Pyongyang was committed to denuclearising the peninsula and resuming stalled talks on its nuclear disarmament.
Mr Carter's visit "provided a favourable occasion of deepening the understanding and building confidence between the two countries", the North's official KCNA news agency said.
There have been no firm sightings of the 68-year-old Kim Jong-il in China.
A hotel in the northeast city of Jilin was under heavy police guard yesterday morning.
A motorcade with more than 30 black cars and a military truck later swept out of the hotel and headed to Changchun, capital of Jilin province, where Jilin city is also located.
South Korean media reported that Kim met Chinese President Hu Jintao in Changchun, and a source in China close to senior officials told Reuters the same.
That source did not know whether Kim's son was accompanying him.