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The agency said in a brief statement that "it looks forward to an official response from China's authorities to address concerns over the president's well-being".

Amid reports of missing Interpol president Meng Wonghei being detained in China, the global police organisation has asked for a "clarification" from the Chinese authorities.

Meng Hongwei (孟宏偉), 64, was last seen leaving for China late last month from Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France, a source close to the inquiry told reporters.

French authorities, which are conducting their own investigation, said Mr Meng, a vice minister for public security in China, definitely boarded a plane and arrived in the country.

Before taking over at Interpol, Meng Hongwei was deputy minister in charge of public security in China. While there are no public allegations against him, Meng, a member of the ruling Communist Party, likely worked closely with former security chief and Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang, who is now serving a life sentence for corruption.

"France is looking into the situation of the President of Interpol and is concerned about the threats his wife has received", the statement said.

The organisation went out of its way to say that its secretary general, not Meng, was responsible for the day-to-day running of Interpol.

"Exchanges with Chinese authorities continue", the ministry said.

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The South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based newspaper known for its connections inside the Chinese government, reported that Meng is under investigation in China for unspecified reasons. The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party's secretive internal investigation agency, had no announcements on its website about Meng and could not be reached for comment.

In the past Beijing has pressed countries to arrest and deport to China citizens it accuses of crimes, from corruption to terrorism.

Meng is the first from his country to serve as Interpol's president, a post that is largely symbolic but powerful in status and not without political weight.

Here are some facts about Meng that might have a bearing on his disappearance during a trip to China. Mr Meng's term is scheduled to run until 2020.

China now has 44 outstanding red notices, mostly related to murder, intentional injury and drug smuggling, according to Interpol's web site.

Roderic Broadhurst, a professor of criminology at Australian National University, said Meng's disappearance would be "pretty disconcerting" for people in worldwide bodies that work with China, and could harm China's efforts to develop cooperative legal assistance measures with other countries.

The 36-year-old took to China's Twitter-like Weibo to acknowledge her wrongs, beg for her supporters" forgiveness, and apologise to "society, the friends who care about me, the public and the national tax authorities'.