North Korea's Kim Jong Un arrives in Beijing for talks

09 January, 2019, 09:30 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Trump touts 'good relationship' with N. Korea

BEIJING-North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is visiting China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, only days after warning he may take an alternative path if the United States does not ease sanctions and pressure on his isolated country.

Kim left Pyongyang Monday for a visit that is slated to end Thursday, North Korean and Chinese state media reported.

The North's official Rodong Sinmun reported on its front page Tuesday that Kim, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol-ju and top aides, kicked off a four-day visit to China Monday at the invitation of Xi.

Lu said Kim's visit is a "coincidence" and nothing to do with the China-US trade talks.

The engine and carriages appear similar, possibly identical, to the train Kim used in March 2018 to travel to Beijing for his first overseas visit.

While the general consensus is that Trump and Kim will meet in an Asian country considering the limits on how far Kim's plane can fly, Washington has eliminated Mongolia from its list of possible hosts, making Vietnam a likely candidate.

The extended visit to Beijing helps fuel speculation that another US-North Korea summit is on the horizon with Kim in town to talk strategy with Xi. But Dr Shin also said that Mr Xi may not be as supportive this time around, given China's delicate position in the trade negotiations with the US.

China is North Korea's most important ally.

"I think it more likely means the U.S.is not the only option, and the North can always rely on China as a counterbalance", he said. Still, that risks bringing North Korea under greater control of its larger and wealthier neighbor - something the regime has fought to avoid over the past six decades.

USA diplomats in Beijing have been seriously monitoring interactions between China and North Korea, a source familiar with the matter told Kyodo News. Kim's fourth visit was significantly more public than his previous three trips, with unusual open announcements from both the Chinese and North Korean governments.

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"We especially hope that the exchange between China and North Korea this time will be a stepping stone for the second North Korea-U.S. summit", Kim said.

But even after what was seen as a blockbuster summit between Mr Kim and Mr Trump in Singapore last June - the first-ever between the leaders of the war enemies - there has been little real progress in nuclear disarmament.

"We are negotiating a location", Trump told reporters.

But Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the timing of the North Korean leader's arrival could be coincidental.

Following his first visit, North Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement noting that Kim had pledged to "steadily carry forward and develop the Sino-DPRK friendship which the leaders of elder generations personally provided and nurtured with sincerity in the course of contributing to the victorious advance of the socialist cause, out of common ideal, faith and deep revolutionary friendship".

Washington is demanding Pyongyang give up its nuclear arsenal before any relief from economic sanctions is granted, while the North is insisting on immediate concessions from the US.

Ties between China and North Korea, which had frayed as Pyongyang stepped up its missile and nuclear tests up to late 2017, warmed over the past year as Kim engaged with China, South Korea and the United States.

Kim's visit comes as a US delegation opened a second day of talks with Chinese counterparts in Beijing aimed at ending the trade war between the world's two largest economies.

"Their behaviour has demonstrated that as well and we appreciate that", Pompeo said.

Washington and Pyongyang seemed close to war at points during 2017, as the North staged a series of increasingly powerful weapons tests that got it tantalisingly close to its nuclear goal of one day targeting with pinpoint accuracy anywhere on the United States mainland.

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