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Korea

Kim and son on visit to China, reports

Reuters/KCNA

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is belived to be visiting China, according to South Korean officials. And he may be accompanied by his youngest son and possible heir apparent.

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A special train carrying the two Kims crossed the border into China Thursday and are now in China's Jian City, South Korean media say.

There's been no confirmation from North Korea or China.

The South Korean reports speculate that the elder Kim is in China to consult with chinese leaders about handing over power to his son Kim Jong-un. He is widely expected to be given key party posts at a key Communist Party meeting next month.

Delegates to the meeting have been elected at city and county meetings, according to the party’s newspaper, Rodong Sinmun. It will be only the third such meeting since the state was founded in 1948.

The route, via the North Korean city of Manpo, is different from the usual one that would have taken him to Dandong, a Chinese city that faces North Korea's Sinuiju City across the Yalu River.

But both Dandong and Sinuiju were badly hit by a recent flood when the Yalu, swollen by torrential rains, broke its banks.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been acute for months, after South Korea accused its neighbour of sinking a warship and staged joint military exercises with the US.

South Korea's Red Cross says it has sent a message to North Korea offering emergency aid to the communist country and is awaiting a reply.

China will also provide an unspecified amount of "emergency relief materials", the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

"This measure will encourage the Korean people in their efforts to recover from the flood damage as early as possible and more energetically step up the building of a thriving nation," the agency said.

KCNA said torrential rain and floods had caused serious damage on Sinuiju city and Uiju county, near the border with China. Rivers had overflowed and more than 7,100 "dwelling blocks" had been destroyed or damaged.
 

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