IMAGE: Kim Jong Il
Yao Dawei  /  AP file
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il
updated 9/4/2006 10:21:11 PM ET 2006-09-05T02:21:11

A special train of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has arrived in a border town with China and the reclusive communist leader was likely to begin a visit to China within the next few days, a South Korean newspaper reported Tuesday.

The JoongAng Ilbo newspaper quoted an unidentified person in Beijing as saying that Kim's train has been staying in the northeastern border city of Shinuiju and there is a high possibility of Kim crossing the border within the next few days, possibly even later Tuesday.

The paper cited another person as saying that a team of North Korean security officials had visited Beijing on Aug. 25 to prepare security arrangements for Kim's trip.

Speculation of a possible trip by Kim to China has been rife in recent weeks, amid concerns that North Korea might be preparing to conduct a nuclear weapons test.

Last week, another South Korean paper reported that Kim's train was spotted traveling in China.

But on Sunday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported Kim visited a machine tool factory and a chicken farm in North Korea, undercutting speculation that he might already be in China. KCNA didn't say when the North Korean leader visited the factory and the farm.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency said Sunday that China plans to invite Kim to Beijing through its new ambassador who is scheduled to arrive in Pyongyang this week.

Kim rarely travels abroad, but has occasionally visited allies China or Russia, last traveling on a tour through several Chinese cities in January. Beijing and Pyongyang didn't officially acknowledge Kim had been in the country until after he left.

North Korea has claimed it has nuclear weapons, but hasn't performed any known test.

The North has stayed away from six-nation talks on its nuclear program since November in anger over the U.S. blacklisting a bank where the Pyongyang regime held accounts due to its alleged complicity in counterfeiting and money laundering.

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