North Korean leader’s chosen son visits China, says report

June 16th, 2009 - 6:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Tokyo, June 16 (DPA) North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s third son, Kim Jong Un, made a secret visit to Beijing last week to inform Chinese leaders that his father had chosen him as his successor, a leading Japanese daily said Tuesday.
The younger Kim confirmed to Chinese President Hu Jintao that Kim Jong Il wanted him to take over as North Korea’s supreme leader, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun quoted Chinese and North Korean sources as saying.

China’s foreign ministry said it could not comment on the reported visit which, if it took place, would have been organised between the Chinese Communist Party and the Korean Workers’ Party.

“We are not aware of the relevant information,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters when asked about the reported visit.

One Beijing-based diplomat specialising in relations between China and North Korea expressed scepticism at the report, while a Chinese scholar played down the significance of any visit by Kim Jong Un.

South Korean politicians and media reported last week that the Korean Workers’ Party was already promoting Kim Jong Un as the chosen successor, following months of speculation after reports that Kim Jong Il, 67, suffered a stroke last year.

The Asahi Shimbun said Hu had urged Kim Jong Un, who travelled as his father’s special envoy, to cancel North Korea’s plan to conduct a third nuclear test.

China also urged North Korea to return to the six-nation talks on ending its nuclear programme, the report said.

It said Kim Jong Un, believed to be only 26, also met Wang Jiarui, head of the Communist Party’s international liaison department.

Yu Yingli of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies said that if Kim Jong Un had visited China it was “still a weak sign” of succession.

“All the signs from different channels show that Kim Jong Un will probably be the heir of Kim Jong Il, but it is still an assumption because this should be recognised by the official side in North Korea,” Yu told DPA.

“If North Korean media begin a propaganda campaign of Kim Jong Un’s story, to depict him as a hero, then it will be a sign (of his succession),” she said.

But North Korean sources said the Stalinist state was trying to seek its ally’s understanding by having the son make the first diplomatic visit on behalf of his father, according to the Japanese media report.

Since Kim Jong Il suffered a stroke, “it is not physically appropriate (for him) to make an extended visit”, North Korean sources were quoted as saying.

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