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Kim Jong Il en route to Beijing?

May 21, 2011 at 12:10 PM
| License Photo

SHENYANG, China, May 21 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Il passed through Shenyang before a tentative visit with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing, officials said.

Kim was expected to visit industrial facilities in Shenyang, but his private train passed through the city's train station about 7 p.m. Friday and headed in the direction of Beijing, Yonhap news agency reported Saturday.

Kim toured a car plant Saturday in Changchun, the second stop on his secretive trip to China, but his private train failed to stop in Shenyang, where he was to tour industrial sites.

The trip is the third in a year for Kim, 69. While he has been photographed in China, neither China nor North Korea confirmed the visit, apparently for security reasons.

In August, Kim met with Hu in Changchun. The current trip comes as Kim prepares his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, as his successor. He reportedly wants to win Beijing's support for his power succession plan.

Kim named Jong Un vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers' Party and a four-star general last year in what analysts believe is the clearest move yet to make him North Korea's next leader.

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