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China sent medical team to advise on North Korea’s Kim: Reuters

This picture taken on April 11, 2020 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 12, 2020 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaking during a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang. (Photo by AFP)

China has sent a team of medical experts to North Korea to advise on the country's leader Kim Jong-un amid conflicting reports about his health, Reuters reports. 

A delegation led by a senior member of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Liaison Department left Beijing for North Korea on Thursday, Reuters reported citing anonymous sources. The department is the main Chinese body dealing with neighboring North Korea.

It was not immediately clear what the trip by the Chinese team signaled in terms of Kim’s health, the report added.

The Liaison Department could not be reached by Reuters for comment late on Friday.

The trip came after South Korea and China both refuted a CNN report that the North Korean leader's life was in “grave danger” following a cardiovascular procedure.

On Monday, CNN cited “a US official with direct knowledge” as saying that Washington “is monitoring intelligence” that Kim “is in grave danger after a surgery.”

The following day, government sources in Seoul and Beijing contradicted the report, saying that Kim was not seriously ill.

The presidential Blue House in Seoul also confirmed that there were no unusual signs coming from the North.

Daily NK, a Seoul-based website, also cited unidentified sources within North Korea as saying that Kim was recovering at a villa in the Mount Kumgang resort county of Hyangsan on North Korea’s east coast after undergoing the cardiovascular procedure at a hospital on April 12.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump also downplayed earlier reports that Kim was gravely ill.

“I think the report was incorrect,” he said, but he declined to say if he had been in touch with North Korean officials.

There has been speculation about Kim’s health following his absence from a major event on April 15 that marked the birth anniversary of his grandfather and North Korea’s founding father, Kim Il-sung.

North Korea’s state media reported on April 12 that Kim had visited a military airbase and observed maneuvers by fighter jets and attack aircraft on the eve of a national holiday commemorating the birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung.

North Korea has been under multiple rounds of harsh sanctions by the UN and the US over its nuclear and missile programs.

China is North Korea’s sole major ally and has a keen interest in the stability of the country with which it shares a vast border.  

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