North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

KJI Meets Hu

KBS reports that Kim Jong Il and Chinese President Hu Jintao had a one-hour meeting and reception in Beijing.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has met with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing.

The two held a summit at the Great Hall of the People in the Chinese capital at around 6:30 pm Wednesday. The talks were also reportedly attended by senior officials of the Chinese Communist Party and top North Korean officials including Kim Yang-gon, head of the United Front Department of the North’s Workers’ Party.

No details of their discussions have been released, but the two leaders are presumed to have discussed resuming the six-party nuclear talks and Beijing’s economic aid for the impoverished North. Analysts in Seoul also speculate that the two leaders may have exchanged opinions about the sinking of South Korea’s Cheonan naval warship in the Yellow Sea in late March.

After the one-hour meeting, Hu hosted a dinner for Kim and his entourage.

The North Korean leader and his delegation arrived in Beijing from Tianjin ealier in the day. KBS television footage showed a motorcade of about 30 protocol vehicles carrying the North Korean leader and entourage passing through the heart of Beijing on Wednesday afternoon.

Kim So-hyun reports for the Korea Herald:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il met with Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday to discuss efforts to rejoin the six-nation nuclear talks and Beijing’s economic aid to the impoverished state, sources said.

The two were believed to have held a summit meeting before the welcome dinner which usually starts at around 7 p.m., diplomatic sources in Beijing said.

After the summit and dinner with Hu, Kim is expected to meet with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who visited Pyongyang in October, and Vice President Xi Jinping today.

“Pyongyang must have extended its willingness to return to the six-nation talks, otherwise Kim Jong-il’s visit wouldn’t have happened,” said Yang Moo-jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies here.

Choi Choon-heum, senior analyst of North Korea-China relations at the Korea Institute for National Unification, said Hu was likely to have reaffirmed Beijing’s commitment to the six-party talks and stressed the importance of inter-Korean relations amid increasing suspicion that North Korea may have been involved in the recent sinking of a South Korean naval ship.

Kim Young-jin and Lee Tae-hoon write in the Korea Times:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il reportedly held a summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao Wednesday, amid speculation that Kim could offer to return to the six-party denuclearization talks in exchange for badly-needed economic aid.

As of 11 p.m., Chinese authorities had made no official comment on the details of the meeting, but the two leaders are presumed to have discussed resuming the six-way negotiations and assistance to the reclusive North.

Around 6 p.m., a motorcade believed to be carrying Kim was seen entering the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where the two leaders are said to have held secrecy-shrouded talks.

Analysts in Seoul said Hu could have offered assistance as an incentive for Kim to return to the denuclearization table. He could have also urged him to curb the reclusive state’s provocative behavior toward South Korea in a bid to increase stability in the volatile but economically vibrant region.

However, prospects for the resumption of the talks remain in limbo as the investigation into the March 26 sinking of the South Korean Navy ship Cheonan near the inter-Korean maritime border continues.

JoongAng‘s Yoo Jee-ho reports on the KJI-Hu tete-a-tete, as well as the Wonsu’s railway journey through the PRC:

Kim, who reportedly has a fear of flying, traveled nearly 12 hours overnight in his armored train from Dalian to Tianjin. After a brief stay in Tianjin, the train arrived at the Beijing South Station about half past noon, Korea time.

Kim didn’t get off the train, however. The reclusive leader instead traveled in a vehicle convoy and reached Beijing about four hours after the train. Tianjin is about 150 kilometers (93.2 miles) southeast of Beijing.

As was the case in Dalian, security was tight in Tianjin and Beijing in the morning. Trains from Dalian, Dandong and other cities bound for Beijing were delayed, and the Beijing South Station was closed to the public by police. Traffic was halted on the road connecting Tianjin and Beijing.

Kim, 68, is likely to have more meetings with Chinese officials today.

Kim and Hu have held three summit meetings so far and they last met in January 2006 in Beijing.

Kim was more visible in Dalian than in Beijing yesterday. He was photographed entering and leaving a downtown Dalian hotel. Kim was expected to reach Beijing by train by around 6 a.m. local time but instead made a surprise stop in Tianjin.

A diplomatic source speculated that Kim may have intentionally made himself more visible in Dalian than in Beijing.

“Kim was in Dalian to try to bolster China-North Korea economic cooperation and attract Chinese investment, and getting himself in the media could send a message that he cares about the North Korean economy,” the source said. Dalian is the logistical center of northeast China, which could serve as a development model for North Korea.

“But in Beijing,” the analyst said, “Kim would mostly deal with security issues, such as the six-party talks and even the Cheonan sinking [for which North Korea is a suspect]. He must have decided he’d be better off out of the spotlight.”

Meanwhile, President Hu may not be the only friendly head of state with whom KJI chews the fat in 2010.  Reuters reports that Kim Jong Il has been invited to visit Iran:

Iran has invited North Korean’s leader Kim Jong-il to visit the Islamic republic to further economic ties, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.”The invitation was made during a trip by the deputy foreign minister in charge of Asian and Oceanic affairs (Mohammad Ali Fatollahi),” foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters at a weekly press briefing in response to a question.

“We are hopeful the visit will take place to serve as a leap forward in cooperation between the two countries, particularly in the economic field,” he added. He gave no more details.

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This article was written on 05 May 2010, and is filled under International Department, Kim Jong-il, KJI Personal Secretariat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Defense Commission (NDC).

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