Published: Wed, January 09, 2019
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, visits China

Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, visits China

The North's state media Rodong Sinmun reported Tuesday that Kim left for China for a four-day visit.

A three-car North Korean train pulled into Beijing Railway station Tuesday morning shortly after China's Xinhua News Agency confirmed Kim would be visiting the country January 7-10.

"His arrival in Beijing, which coincided with Mr. Kim's birthday on Thursday, comes as Pyongyang expresses increasing frustration at the USA approach in stalled denuclearization talks", the Wall Street Journal reports.

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.

"From the other prospective, this is something that can indirectly be used to show the United States that China is not playing without any cards in hand", Shi said.

In late December, North Korea said that it would not relinquish its nuclear weapons until the U.S. eliminates its own "nuclear threat". Both visited China and South Korea six years after inheriting power, with the elder Kim creating what Sung-Yoon Lee, a Korea expert at The Fletcher School at Tufts University in the US, characterized as " a dramatic mood swing in Northeast Asia" - a plan Kim Jong Un appears set on emulating.

Neither KCNA nor Xinhua provided further information on Kim's itinerary, though South Korea's Hankyoreh newspaper said on Monday that he will meet with China's Xi for a fourth summit.

China and North Korea, which fought together in the 1950-1953 Korean War against US-led United Nations forces, have been long described as "blood brothers".

"Washington has expressed concerns that China could use the North Korean issue for leverage in its trade disputes with the U.S.", Kuhn reports. The train was expected to pull into Beijing on Tuesday morning, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported, citing an anonymous source.

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On Sunday, he said negotiations were underway on the location of the next meeting with Kim. However since Kim's outreach to Seoul and Washington, the North Korean leader has coordinated with China in the lead-up to and the aftermath of the inter-Korean Summit with Seoul and the Singapore summit with the U.S.

However, Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies senior adviser Bonnie Glaser said that the timing of the North Korean leader's arrival could be coincidental.

Washington is pressing North Korea to offer up a detailed accounting of its nuclear arsenal, while the North says it has already done enough and it's time for the ease the harsh global sanctions that hold back the North Korean economy.

When asked whether there can be contacts between the United States and North Korean officials in Beijing, he noted that "these two delegations are not quite of the same level".

Bloomberg News optimistically took Kim's meeting with Xi as a sign "negotiations over North Korea's nuclear arsenal may be regaining momentum after months without high-level diplomatic meetings". However, Xi has called on the sides to "meet each other halfway", and China's foreign minister in September urged some form of sanctions relief in response to any positive outcomes from the first Kim-Trump summit.

Ties between China and North Korea, which had frayed as Pyongyang stepped up its provocations through a series of missile and nuclear tests, warmed over the a year ago as Kim engaged with Beijing as well as Seoul and Washington.

Mr Trump has offered assurances that another summit will allow he and Mr Kim to make a grand deal to settle the nuclear standoff and change a relationship marked by decades of animosity and mistrust. "But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNBC on Monday that China has so far kept the two issues separate".

A spokesperson for the South Korean government expressed optimism that the diplomatic discussions between the two Koreas, North Korea and China, and North Korea and the United States might build on each other. "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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