Wed, Jan 18, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Kim's tour baffles media

POSSIBLE SIGHTINGS The North Korean leader was reportedly due to discuss six-party talks yesterday, but his actual presence in China has still not been confirmed


A motorcade believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-il arrived at Beijing's state guesthouse yesterday, South Korean media reported, the latest sighting of a man whose whereabouts remain a mystery.

The 30-car convoy arrived at the Diaoyutai Guesthouse in Beijing at about 8:30am, a diplomatic source told South Korea's Yonhap news agency on condition of anonymity.

Kim was expected to meet with President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and other Chinese leaders on stalled six-party talks aimed at getting the North to abandon its nuclear weapons programs, the report said.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it had no information on Kim's reported visit. In the past China has released details of Kim's travels only after he has returned to his country.

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.

Foreign news reports stated that Kim spent nearly a week in the heart of China's booming south, touring high-tech companies in a possible search for ideas to revive his country's laggard economy.

A Japanese TV network showed what it said was Kim on a river cruise in Guangdong Province.

Another Japanese broadcaster, Nippon TV, showed a figure with Kim's distinctive hairstyle getting into a limousine outside the provincial capital's White Swan hotel.

Meqnwhile, on Monday, pro-Beijing newspapers in Hong Kong said Kim's armored train was carrying him to the Chinese capital to meet Hu.

The US has urged Beijing to use its influence to convince Pyongyang to return to the six-party talks.

International talks on the North's nuclear ambitions have been stalled since November, with Pyongyang accusing the United States of a hostile attitude.

The talks also include Russia, Japan and South Korea.

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