BEIJING — China and North Korea confirmed Monday that their leaders met while the Kim Jong Il was on a secretive trip to his northern neighbor, apparently to seek aid and drum up support for a succession plan.
Though the visit was widely reported on through anonymous officials and relying on spottings of the North Korean dictator's train and motorcade, simultaneous dispatches from both countries' state media were the first official confirmation. They also likely signaled the trip was over, as neither country has in the past acknowledged Kim's visits until he has returned home.China Central Television reported on its main evening broadcast that Kim met President Hu Jintao on Friday in the northeast city of Changchun. North Korean state media issued a report at the same time confirming the trip and published a speech Kim gave in Hu's presence.
Neither of the two, as well as foreign diplomats in Beijing who were briefed separately on the visit, mentioned of Kim's son, Kim Jong Un, amid fervent speculation that the ailing leader is grooming his youngest son to take over power.