North Korean leader asks for Beijing trip

BEIJING - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is seeking an ice-breaking trip to key ally Beijing next month to meet China's outgoing and new leaders, a source with ties to Pyongyang and Beijing told Reuters on Friday.
The planned visit comes amid signs of a thaw in Pyongyang as it desperately seeks investment to lift its impoverished and isolated economy using Chinese money. The trip was requested during this month's visit to Beijing by Kim's uncle, Jang Song-thaek, effectively the second most powerful figure in North Korea.
"It will be a get-to-know-you trip," said the source who has correctly predicted events in the past, including North Korea's first nuclear test in 2006 days before it was conducted, as well Jang's rise.
"It will be a state visit. This was one of the most important missions of Jang Song-thaek's visit," the source added.
North Korea relies heavily on China for economic and diplomatic support and the trip would be Kim's first abroad since becoming leader.
Jang met Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao on his trip to Beijing.
It is not known whether Kim Jong-un, the 20-something leader of North Korea who took power in December following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, visited China before assuming office.
Kim Jong-il last visited China in May 2011.