China mum on Kim Jong-un’s possible Beijing visit

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Beijing, March 27 (IANS) China on Tuesday kept mum on a possible visit by North Korea’s Kim Jong-un to Beijing, where a mysterious diplomatic convoy was seen moving, giving rise to much speculation among international media.

“I am not aware of any information at present. If we have some information, we will release it in due course,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a press conference.

Although Hua did not confirm if North Korean leader had made his first visit to China since assuming power six years ago, he did say the two countries were “traditional friends” and still had “normal exchanges” despite recent sanctions by Beijing on Pyongyang in line with several resolutions of the UN Security Council, reports Efe news agency.

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Reports of the visit come ahead of the proposed summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April and a possible meeting between the North Korean leader and US President Donald Trump in May.

The Chinese spokesperson stressed that Beijing’s aim was to “continue to play a positive and constructive role in the denuclearisation (of the Korean peninsula) and maintaining peace and stability”.

Earlier on Tuesday, the South Korean government said it does not know if Kim had visited Beijing.

The possible presence of Kim Jong-un would be along the lines of the trips to Beijing by his father, Kim Jong-il, who used to come in a special train, amid heavy security deployments at key points in the Chinese capital, and complete silence by the authorities of both countries until the North Korean leader had returned to his country.

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In Diaoyutai, the residential area where foreign leaders normally stay, a large retinue with over two dozen police officials on motorcycles and several other vehicles was seen leaving the complex.

The convoy was later seen at the Beijing railway station, from where trains towards the northeast (in North Korea’s direction) depart and around which much movement and security was detected.

The main vehicle of the convoy was a large limousine, typical of a German manufacturer, while foreign leaders visiting Beijing (with the exception of Americans) normally use Chinese Hongqi-brand vehicles provided by China’s government.

Around the North Korean embassy, at the northern entrance of the popular Temple of the Sun Park, any person with a camera was immediately surrounded by police officials, who asked them to identify themselves and leave the area.

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On the other hand, the iconic Tiananmen Square, where many state buildings are located, was open as usual to tourists after remaining closed on Monday for several hours amid tight security.

–IANS

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