North Korea's Kim visits China ahead of expected Trump summit

Trump Says Washington Is Seeking Location for Another Summit With North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong-un goes to China for 4th meeting with Xi

Vietnam has delivered to both South and North Korea its wish to host the envisioned summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, confirmed Kim's visit after a flurry of reports from South Korean media that a train appearing to be carrying a senior North Korean official had passed through Dandong, a Chinese city on the border with North Korea.

North's Korean Central News Agency said Mr Kim departed on Monday afternoon with his wife Ri Sol Ju and other top officials. Notably, Kim would be spending what is presumably his 35th birthday on January 8 in China.

He also visited China three times, notably without a reciprocal visit from Mr Xi in a break with diplomatic convention.

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

Kim is making a four-day trip to China in what's likely an effort by to coordinate with his only major ally ahead of a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump that could happen early this year. Moon has expressed hopes for another meeting with Kim soon, ideally held in Seoul to fulfill Kim's promise to pay a historic visit to the South Korean capital.

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US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday that China's economy was more vulnerable to the fallout from the trade war. But he warned that he may seek an alternative path to a summit with Trump if USA sanctions and pressure against the country continues. Since then, "North Korea has refused to engage in working-level talks with the U.S.", NPR has reported.

The United States has demanded that North Korea start taking crucial steps toward denuclearization, like declaring how many nuclear weapons it has and other details of its weapons program, for future inspections.

It is hoped that the US and South Korea can accurately understand the constructive significance of amicable China-North Korea ties to push ahead with denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

In his address, Kim urged the United States to take reciprocal measures in exchange for denuclearization steps the North Korean dictator has claimed his country has taken since a year ago.

Officials from US and China are meeting in Beijing this week to negotiate an end to the trade war that has led to hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs over the past year.

The four-day visit could be a chance for the two leaders to coordinate ahead of a second summit between Kim and President Trump, NPR's global correspondent Anthony Kuhn reports.

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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.

South Korea's Blue House on Tuesday confirmed that it has been notified by both North Korea and China ahead of the Kim's Beijing visit and has been "sharing information with both countries".

On Monday, the first day of the two-day vice ministerial-level trade talks, the United States missile destroyer sailed near a group of islands in the waters claimed by China, as part of the Pentagon's "freedom of navigation" operation aimed at challenging Beijing's military activities there.

"As to whether this is used as a bargaining chip by China in trade talks, I believe more Americans would think so than Chinese do", the tweet went on to say.

The UN enforced multiple rounds of economic sanctions against Pyongyang a year ago as punishment for its nuclear development.

"Kim is eager to remind the Trump administration that he does have diplomatic and economic options besides what Washington and Seoul can offer", Harry J. Kazianis, Director of Defense Studies at the US-based Centre for the National Interest said in an e-mailed statement. "China has actually been a good partner in our efforts to reduce the risk to the world from North Korea's nuclear capability".

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