Published: Tue, January 08, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

[Breaking] North Korea confirms Kim Jong-un's trip to China

[Breaking] North Korea confirms Kim Jong-un's trip to China

On his trip to China, Kim was also accompanied by senior officials including Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee of the Workers Party Kim Yong Chol and senior diplomat Ri Yong Ho, according to Korea Central Television.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The US State Department and White House declined to comment on the Munhwa Ilbo report and the State Department referred queries about Mr Kim's reported China visit to the Chinese government.

A former North Korean diplomat who staged a high-profile defection to the South, yesterday urged an old colleague who has gone missing in Italy to defect to Seoul, following a report that he was seeking asylum in the US.

Dozens of security vehicles and officials blocked the roads around the train station in Dandong before the train passed, leading to speculation Kim was on board.

While there was no official confirmation of Kim's itinerary, South Korea's Hankyoreh newspaper, citing an unidentified source with close knowledge of North Korea-China affairs, reported late Monday that Kim was traveling to Beijing to meet with Xi, while the Yonhap news agency, citing an unspecified source familiar with North Korea issues, said a North Korean train possibly carrying a "high-level" official had crossed the border into China late Monday.

The "high-ranking" official, who is expected to arrive in Beijing at 10am local time on Tuesday, is yet to be confirmed as Kim, Yonhap reported. And earlier in the week Trump said he had received a "great letter" from Kim.

At the first summit between the longtime adversaries in June, Trump and Kim agreed to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula but there is a lack of clarity on what that means.

"It will be announced probably in the not too distant future", Trump said Sunday about the location of the second summit.

In his annual New Year's speech last week, Mr Kim said he was committed to denuclearisation, but warned that he would change course if USA sanctions remained.

Kim used a very distinctive armored train made especially for him on visits to China past year.

"So I think this is China's effort to try and be part of this process and the key question of course is what is their message to the North Koreans", Hill added.

But as global sanctions have increased over the past year, coal is one of the few local resources to which Kim can turn as he tries to make good on promises to improve life in a country notorious for limited electricity, analysts and defectors say. Both parties signed a pledge at the time to denuclearise the Korean peninsular, though was never clear what this would entail. China says it imported no North Korean coal from January to March 2018. He defected to South Korea.

North Korea and China have worked to maintain friendly ties amid thawing tensions between the Hermit Kingdom and South Korea and the United States.

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