NKorean leader Kim may visit China next week
Updated: 2006-08-24 07:02

An Internet news site specializing in North Korea claimed Wednesday that leader Kim Jong Il may visit China next week, and a news agency said Beijing had invited Kim to visit amid speculation that the North Korea may be preparing for a nuclear test.

The Daily NK Web site cited an unidentified person in China saying that high-level North Korean military officials were on a visit to China to prepare security arrangements for Kim's trip, scheduled for around Monday.

The person was quoted as saying that the trip may be related to the North Korea's alleged preparation of a nuclear test, and that the Chinese leadership may have invited Kim to dissuade him from a nuclear test.

The report quoted another individual in Japan, speaking of an intelligence report that Kim may visit China around late August, and that the trip may be aimed at informing China of the North Korea's plan to conduct a nuclear test.

Meanwhile, a report from South Korea's Yonhap news agency said China had invited Kim to visit "as soon as possible."

The report, citing an unidentified North Korea watcher in the Chinese city of Shenyang, said Beijing hopes the visit would resolve tensions over the North Korea's recent missile launches.

Fears about a possible North Korean nuclear test have grown recently after news reports last week cited U.S. officials saying suspicious activity had been observed at a possible underground nuclear test site.

That comes after the North Korea test-launched a series of missiles last month over international objections, drawing UN Security Council sanctions.

South Korea's Unification Ministry, which monitors the North, had no information on any possible Kim trip. The Chinese Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment.

Earlier this week, Chinese President Hu Jintao spoke by telephone with U.S. President George W. Bush about North Korea and the nuclear impasse.

North Korea has claimed it has nuclear weapons, but hasn't performed any known test to confirm it has successfully engineered an atomic bomb.

The North Korea has stayed away from six-nation talks on its nuclear program since November in anger over the U.S. blacklisting a bank where the Pyongyang held accounts due to its alleged complicity in counterfeiting and money laundering.


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