Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

North Korea’s Kim discusses expected summit with Trump in talks in China

North Korea’s Kim discusses expected summit with Trump in talks in China

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wrapped up his four-day visit to China on Wednesday after holding talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and touring an economic zone, while the United States maintains its silence over the two leaders' meeting.

The North Korean leader's motorcade was spotted arriving at the Beijing central railway station early on Wednesday afternoon, and Kim's train departed shortly after for the day-long ride back to the border, according to news agencies.

While Mr. Trump says he considers Xi key to enticing Kim into taking concrete steps toward denuclearization, the president's own relationship with his Chinese counterpart has frayed over the U.S.

Kim's visit to North Korea's most important economic and diplomatic ally follows reports of advanced negotiations for a second summit between Washington and Pyongyang aimed at resolving the standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

During the visit, the North Korean leader met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and visited a pharmaceutical factory in southern Beijing, in addition to a high-tech economic development zone.

The visit came as trade talks between the US and China were underway in the city, leaving some to speculate about the message Kim may be sending President Trump.

Mr Trump said on Sunday that the U.S. and North Korea are negotiating the location of their next summit. Xi then threw a lavish banquet for Kim to celebrate his birthday, but state-run CCTV made no mention of Kim's visit.

Kim spoke with Xi for about an hour Tuesday night, discussing ways to strengthen their ties and lay out strategy for a potential summit between Kim and Trump on curbing Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, Yonhap reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the talks.

"China will also introduce some successful experiences to Kim to help North Korea achieve economic transformation and realise the denuclearisation of the peninsula as soon as possible", Lu added.

China's official Xinhua news agency confirmed that Kim was visiting from Monday to Thursday at Xi's invitation.

In the New Year speech, Kim focused on North Korea's moribund economy, saying that improving people's lives was his top priority and tackling energy shortages was an urgent task.

The visit coincided with negotiations between USA and Chinese officials in Beijing to resolve a bruising trade war between the world's two biggest economies.

Kim and Trump pledged to work towards denuclearisation at their landmark June summit in Singapore, but the agreement was short on specifics.

The US insists that United Nations sanctions must remain in place until North Korea gives up its weapons, while Pyongyang wants them eased immediately.

A Cheong Wa Dae spokesman declined to say whether Seoul was informed of Kim's visit by either North Korea or China.

Still, China has denied any interest in using North Korea as a bargaining chip and doing so risked undermining a source of stability in its strained relations with the U.S.

The North Korea leader, who stressed that attaining economic self-sufficiency and prosperity is the country's core drive in his New Year's address, spent some 30 minutes there inspecting production sites, which could be a model for North Korea in modernizing its herbal medicine industry.

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