Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Kim Jong Un concludes China visit ahead of possible 2nd Trump summit

Kim Jong Un concludes China visit ahead of possible 2nd Trump summit

The long train was seen Wednesday travelling on an elevated track over a busy street heading toward eastern China.

Given that it takes more than 14 hours from Beijing to the border city of Dandong by train, Kim stayed less than two days in the capital city.

On Tuesday, Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping met for about an hour to discuss the looming North Korea-US summit, which is expected to take place this month or next.

North Korea will "make efforts for the second summit between (North Korean) and USA leaders to achieve results that will be welcomed by the global community", Kim was quoted as saying by China's official Xinhua News Agency.

Kim Jong-un visits a Tong Ren Tang pharmaceutical plant in Yizhuang, Beijing on Wednesday.

Experts think Kim's China trip was meant to discuss strategies with his closest ally ahead of a possible summit with Trump, adding that it also appears aimed at strengthening the North's negotiating leverage by demonstrating its strong ties with Beijing. However, neither side has provided details of what he did since arriving aboard his personal armored train Tuesday morning.

Kim emerged from his quarters around 4 meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, where Kim's wife Ri Sol-ju joined them later.

North Korea wants relief from the multiple sets of sanctions imposed on it over its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs, while the U.S. wants them to remain in place until it gives up its arms - something Pyongyang has made no public promise to do.

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Progress between Washington and Pyongyang has always been hobbled by wide differences on how denuclearisation should unfold, and under what conditions.

The official Global Times newspaper said Kim's visit on his birthday demonstrates the "close relationship" between the two leaders.

North Korea has repeatedly invited Xi to visit Pyongyang. "If he wants to shift his focus to the development of the economy, he needs China's cooperation", said Lu Chao, a North Korea expert at China's Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences.

Trump said Sunday that the United States and North Korea were negotiating the location of their next summit.

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.

At Tuesday's daily Foreign Ministry briefing, spokesman Lu Kang gave said details of Kim's visit would be released "in due course".

Xi re-asserted China's importance in the diplomatic process surrounding the Korean peninsula, Xinhua said, quoting him as saying that Beijing stands ready to "play a positive and constructive role in maintaining peace and stability and realizing denuclearization on the peninsula and lasting peace and stability in the region".

The trip to China came a week after Kim, in his annual New Year's address to the nation, renewed his commitment to denuclearisation but warned that Pyongyang may change its approach to nuclear talks if Washington persists with sanctions.

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