North Korean leader lobbies for China visit

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is seeking a state visit to China in a bid to lift his isolated country out of poverty, sources have said.

It is not clear whether China will be prepared to host him in September, when Beijing will be preoccupied with its own leadership change.

The Beijing leadership may also have its doubts about the unproven Mr Kim, who after only four months in office defied his neighbour by conducting a long-range rocket test.

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A source with ties to both Pyongyang and Beijing said yesterday that Mr Kim’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, effectively the second most powerful figure in Pyongyang, had asked for the visit when he met Chinese leaders in Beijing last week.

“It will be a state visit. This was one of the most important missions of Jang Song-thaek’s visit,” the source said.

China’s foreign ministry declined to comment on the proposed visit, which would be Mr Kim’s first trip abroad since he took office and became the third of his line to rule North Korea.

Mr Kim, in his late 20s, appears to be trying hard to soften the dour image of his dictator father, Kim Jong-il whom he succeeded in
December 2011.