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Train believed to be carrying North Koreans leave Beijing

BEIJING/SEOUL: A train believed to be carrying a senior North Korean delegation left the Chinese capital yesterday following a dramatic whirlwind visit that some reports said included the country's leader, Kim Jong Un.

The conservative South Korea Chosun Ilbo newspaper, citing an unnamed senior intelligence official, said the delegation had included Mr Kim and that he had since returned to North Korea.

South Korea's left-leaning press Hankyoreh also reported Kim had travelled to Beijing for meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday afternoon before leaving for a "third location" yesterday. It did not cite specific sources.

The Hankyoreh did not specify where the "third location" was but said it could be in China.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post said Kim was on the train that left Beijing, citing two anonymous sources.

South Korea said it was closely watching events in Beijing, where a foreign ministry spokeswoman deflected a question on whether Kim, his sister or some other senior North Korean was visiting. South Korea's spy agency declined to confirm the report.

"At present I have no understanding of the situation you mention. If there is news we will release it," foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said.

Diplomatic sources in Beijing said a senior North Korean official was in town, but did not know exactly who.

Bloomberg, citing three unidentified sources, reported late on Monday that Mr Kim was in Beijing in what would be his first known trip outside North Korea since taking power in 2011.

The unconfirmed visit came ahead of planned summit meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae In and US President Donald Trump.

Underscoring the mystery, one senior Beijing-based diplomatic source told Reuters simply: "We just don't know."

One source with ties to China's leadership said it was possible Kim's younger sister, Ms Kim Yo Jong, was in town.

- REUTERS

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