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Wen says N.K. leader called power succession 'false rumor': Carter

All Headlines 10:46 September 17, 2010

SEOUL, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's top leader told China that the speculation of power succession by his youngest son is a "false rumor," according to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter who was in Beijing last week.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao "surprised us by quoting the DPRK leader regarding the prospective promotion of his son, Kim Jong-un, as 'a false rumor from the West,'" the former president said in a Carter Center Web posting dated Sept. 13. DPRK stands for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the North's official name.

"We'll just have to wait to learn the truth about the succession in power."

North Korea's top leader Kim Jong-il visited China, his country's staunchest ideological ally, last month. The trip by the reclusive leader, unprecedentedly his second to the neighbor nation in the same year, was seen as an effort to introduce his third and youngest son to China and get its blessing.

Kim Jong-il trundled over to Beijing when Carter was visiting Pyongyang on a private mission to secure the release of a U.S. citizen held for illegal entry since January. Carter did not appear to have had a private encounter with the North Korean leader during the trip, although he neither confirmed nor denied such speculation.

The anticipated power transition in the communist nation has drawn much attention since Kim Jong-il was reported to have suffered a stroke in 2008, triggering concerns about the stability of the reclusive regime.

Kim's son was expected to make his official debut as the heir at a meeting of the Workers' Party delegates in Pyongyang, announced to take place early this month, but the meeting appeared to have been postponed with no signs of the event past the month's midpoint.

Neither Pyongyang nor state media has given any explanation.

A larger assembly in 1980 had formalized Kim Jong-il as successor to his father and North Korea founder Kim Il-sung.

Carter said Wen "was quite interested in my visit to Pyongyang and confirmed that the positive messages I received there were the same that Kim Jong Il had brought to China."


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