Beijing (AsiaNews) - After five days of silence, the governments of Beijing and Pyongyang have confirmed that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited China in recent days, where he told President Hu Jintao he was in favour of "the denuclearization of Korean Peninsula", a phrase that implies the renunciation of nuclear weapons and the resumption of negotiations with the international community.
Chinese state television CCTV dedicated a long report to the latest meeting between the two leaders which took place in Changchun (in northeast China). The cameras framed Kim Jong-il and other members of the North Korean delegation, among whom it was impossible to identify Kim Jong-un, the third son and designated successor to the leader. The presence of young Kim in the delegation was announced by South Korean sources, justifying the trip with the dictator's own desire to "present" his heir to Beijing.
According to Xinhua, the Chinese government's news agency, Kim said that "North Korea has not withdrawn its support for the denuclearization of the peninsula." The North Korean leader added that he intends to "maintain close communication and cooperation with China for an early resumption of six-party talks and to eliminate the tension on the Korean peninsula." The six-party talks on Pyongyang's disarmament, which involves the two Koreas, China, the U.S., Japan and Russia have been stalled since 2008.
The hypothesis that the problem of succession to Kim Jong-il, who is 68 and is not in good health, was the focal point of the visit has been strengthened by the route chosen by the North Korean delegation which visited, as well as Changchun, the cities of Jilin and Harbin, in the northeast. All locations are connected with Kim Il Sung, father of Kim Jong-il and founder of the dynasty that has ruled for six decades, North Korea, who was an anti-Japanese guerrilla.
Kim's second visit to China in less than three months began while former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was in Pyongyang. There, Carter secured the release of American citizen Aijalon Mahle Gomes, who was jailed in January for illegally entering North Korea. The absence of Kim Jong-il from his country was seen as a message to U.S.: Pyongyang is extremely unhappy with the economic sanctions imposed by Washington and the intensified tension in the region following the sinking in March, the South Korean ship the Cheonan.