Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and other top Chinese leaders paid their respects Wednesday to North Korea’s late leader Kim Jong Il, a further sign that China is working to reassure Pyongyang of the strength of ties and retain its influence amid an uncertain leadership transition.
Wen and four other members of the ruling Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee made a morning visit to the North Korean Embassy in Beijing to offer their condolences, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
President Hu Jintao and the other three members of the supreme ruling body visited on Tuesday.
China has moved rapidly to reaffirm unique, deep-seated ties and assure the North of its continuing support as Pyongyang’s most important ally and biggest source of food and fuel aid.
China has called Kim a “close friend” and hailed his son and successor Kim Jong Un as the North’s new leader. China has been expected to push for an early visit by the younger Kim to cement ties with the new leadership.