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Potential Kim-Jiang Zemin meeting to focus on N. Korea's succession

All Headlines 17:30 May 23, 2011

BEIJING, May 23 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il may be seeking to broaden support for his hereditary succession plot by meeting with former Chinese President Jiang Zemin in the eastern Chinese city of Yangzhou, observers say.

A meeting between Kim and Jiang, who lives in Yangzhou, would suggest that the North Korean leader is trying to circumvent the discomfort among incumbent senior Chinese leaders about patronizing a dynastic succession in their neighboring communist ally.

Kim met with Jiang on his previous trips to China in 2000, 2001 and 2004. His father, North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung, also met with Jiang in Yangzhou in 1991. Jiang was general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party from 1989-2009 and president of China from 1993-2003. He is still believed to wield considerable clout on the Chinese political landscape.

Another round of talks between Kim and Jiang would be kept as secret as Chinese officials could manage to make it. Such a meeting would mean Kim Jong-il is as intent on winning the support for his power transfer to his third son, Jong-un, as he is on learning how the Chinese leadership successfully drove its economic reforms.

Kim traveled 2,000 kilometers by train to reach Yangzhou after he visited the Changchun, Jilin and Tumen regions in China's northeast where he toured industrial sites. A South Korean presidential official has quoted Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao as saying during a summit in Tokyo that Kim's trip is aimed at reviving the North's economy on the heels of Beijing's economic rise.

By traveling to Yangzhou, Kim has also triggered speculation that he is poised to visit the nearby city of Shanghai, China's economic capital. Kim last visited Shanghai in 2001. His journey to China, the seventh since he took power in 1994, began last Friday.

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