North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il has turned up in China in a strangely timed visit for the reclusive leader while former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is in North Korea trying to win the release of an imprisoned American.
It marked Mr. Kim’s second trip to China in three months — unusual for a man who never flies and travels only by armored train.
South Korean media and regional analysts said he may be seeking Chinese aid following flooding in his impoverished country’s northwest — and could be laying the diplomatic ground work for the succession of his son, who is thought to be traveling with him.
In any case, it was not clear whether he would return in time for a meeting with Mr. Carter, an elder statesman well-regarded in North Korea despite the two countries’ longtime animosity. Mr. Carter met with Mr. Kim’s father, late President Kim Il-sung, on his last trip to Pyongyang in 1994 — a warm meeting that led to a landmark nuclear disarmament deal.
Neither North Korea, nor China announced the trip; Mr. Kim’s travels typically are not publicized by North Korea until after his return.
Former President Jimmy Carter (left) meets with North Korea’s No. 2 official, Kim Yong Nam, at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)Former President Jimmy Carter (left) meets with North Korea’s No. 2 official, Kim Yong Nam, at Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
But his stop in Jilin city in northeastern China was confirmed by two teachers at the Yuwen Middle School, a school Mr. Kim’s father once attended that carries historic and patriotic significance for North Koreans.
“He definitely came over. But I’m not sure if his son was with him or what time he came,” said a physical education teacher who would give only his surname, Zhao.
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