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Where is president Kim? Some say in China for the six-party talks, but other disagree. North Korea is called the Hermit Kingdom because no Westerners know what is actually happening inside its government. |
January 12, 2006
Police Guard China Hotel Amid Rumors Over NKorea's Kim
Filed at 9:26 p.m. ET
GUANGZHOU, China (Reuters) - Unusually tight police security in and around a five-star hotel in south China on Friday sparked speculation reclusive North Korean leader Kim Jong-il may be in town as diplomatic efforts to kick-start six-party talks on the North's nuclear programs got under way.
The Chinese government booked the entire White Swan Hotel in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, for several days. Police and hotel staff stopped people from entering and roads leading to the hotel were cordoned off.
``I am sorry, but the government has rented the whole hotel and in fact this morning we had to send our guests to other hotels,'' one employee told Reuters late on Thursday. ``We will only open for regular business on the morning of the 16th.''
Asked if any special visitors were staying at the riverside hotel, she said: ``We don't know. We have not been told anything.''
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told reporters on Thursday he had ``no information to offer'' on Kim's whereabouts.
Various media reports -- citing witnesses, diplomatic sources and those familiar with his movements -- have put Kim in Beijing or Shanghai. One source said he was in Russia. Hong Kong newspapers said he was headed for the booming southern region of Shenzhen.
The top U.S. negotiator with North Korea, Christopher Hill, said on arrival in Beijing on Thursday he would try to breathe life into stalled nuclear talks.
``We're going to discuss a way forward on the six-party talks,'' Hill told reporters. ``Obviously what we need is for all six parties to agree to a date.''
Leaving the Chinese capital several hours later, Hill said he had good talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, but gave no details.
The nuclear talks, which group the two Koreas, host China, the United States, Russia and Japan, made progress last year when Pyongyang agreed in principle to dismantle its atomic weapons in exchange for aid and security guarantees.
The six were meant to meet again this year, but North Korea has threatened a boycott because of a U.S. crackdown on its finances. The last round of talks was in November.
Hill said he had no plans to meet North Korean officials in Beijing but hinted Kim might also be in China. ``I understand we have some North Korean visitors here today,'' he said.
But Russia's Itar-Tass news agency said on Thursday that Kim was still in North Korea and that the mystery person who crossed the border was probably someone close to the leadership.