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INTRO:  China has acknowledged that reclusive North 
Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited Beijing earlier this 
week on his first known foreign trip in 17 years.  V-
O-A correspondent Roger Wilkison reports an official 
account of the visit by the Chinese Foreign Ministry 
and the state-owned Xinhua news agency was long on 
rhetoric and short on detail.
TEXT:  Kim Jong-il came to Beijing just days before he 
is to meet with South Korean President Kim Dae-jung in 
an unprecedented summit.  China is describing his 
visit as unofficial, but says he was invited by 
President Jiang Zemin.
The Chinese account says Kim Jong-il hailed Beijing's 
market-oriented economic reforms that have raised 
Chinese living standards over the past 20 years.  
China has been pressing North Korea to open up its own 
economy, which has been marked by severe food and 
energy shortages in recent years.  But Foreign 
Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue hinted Thursday 
through an interpreter that Mr. Kim indicated he will 
continue to go his own way.
            /// INTERPRETER ACT ///
      General Secretary Mr. Kim Jong-il expressed and 
      told the Chinese side that the (North Korean) 
      side is building (North Korean) style socialism 
      according to its own situation and the Chinese 
      side is building its socialism with Chinese 
            /// END ACT ///
China says it will grant a package of aid, consisting 
of food and what Ms. Zhang called material supplies to 
North Korea as the isolated state struggles to rebound 
from several years of natural disasters compounded by 
mismanagement of its collective farm system.  But the 
spokeswoman says she had no further details.
She says Mr. Kim held talks with President Jiang and 
other Chinese leaders on bilateral relations and 
regional affairs, but refused to be more explicit.
Reports on Mr. Kim's surprise visit had him arriving 
in Beijing and departing the Chinese capital by 
special train, but that was not mentioned in the 
official Chinese account.  Ms. Zhang would only say 
that the North Korean leader was the guest of honor at 
a banquet hosted by Mr. Jiang and that he visited 
China's top computer firm.
Reporters wanted to know what kind of clothes Mr. Kim 
wore during his visit, whether he ordered any special 
meals and whether he still sports a pompadour haircut.  
Ms. Zhang refused to answer such questions.
            /// INTERPRETER ACT ///
      I don't think it is polite to comment on a state 
      leader in such an open occasion.  But I do want 
      to say that he looks quite healthy.
            /// END ACT ///
Diplomats in Beijing say Mr. Kim's visit marks a 
warming of ties between the two communist allies.  
Relations have been relatively cool over the past 
eight years, following China's establishment of 
diplomatic links with South Korea.   (signed)
01-Jun-2000 09:40 AM EDT (01-Jun-2000 1340 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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