North Korea's Kim Jong-un takes train to China

09 January, 2019, 09:27 | Author: Donnie King
  • Trump Says Washington Is Seeking Location for Another Summit With North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

FILE - People watch a screen showing images of, from left, South Korea's president Moon Jae-in, USA president Donald Trump, China's president Xi Jinping, and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un at a railway station in Seoul, May 11, 2018.

Kim left Pyongyang Monday for a visit that is slated to end Thursday, North Korean and Chinese state media reported.

It said he was accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol Ju, and senior officials, including Kim Yong Chol, Kim's right-hand man in diplomatic negotiations with the United States and South Korea.

The second day of trade negotiations coincided with an unannounced visit by North Korea's Kim for talks with Xi in Beijing, amid speculation of a second meeting between Kim and Trump.

The United States, meanwhile, is expected to carefully watch whether North Korea's negotiating strategy will change after Kim's four-day visit to China from Monday, amid speculation that the USA and North Korean leaders will meet again 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.

"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.

"We look forward that the exchanges between China and North Korea will contribute to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and establishment of permanent peace", said Kim Eui-kyeom, the Blue House spokesman, in a briefing. 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. China clearly anticipates receiving a privileged stake in North Korea, Inc. when it opens for business after sanctions are eased, an outcome USA policymakers will doubtless see as preferable to all-out war on the Korean Peninsula or a nuclear holocaust.

Analysts say the visit is likely to be an opportunity for the two countries to discuss North Korea's plans for another meeting with Trump.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang gave no details about Kim's schedule or China's role as an intermediary between the USA and North Korea.

Officials from USA 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. It is rare for North Korean media to report so promptly the movement of their leader, especially when he is traveling out of the country.

Since the Singapore summit, there is growing scepticism in the USA over Kim delivering on his promise to do away with the nuclear programme despite Washington's assurance over North Korea's security.

Tuesday also happens to be the North Korean leader's birthday. The Kim-Xi meeting comes ahead of a likely second summit with President Donald Trump, after the two leaders met in June to discuss denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. 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. "China has actually been a good partner in our efforts to reduce the risk to the world from North Korea's nuclear capability; I expect they will continue to do so".

Experts say this trip to Beijing, Pyongyang's sole major ally and its top economic lifeline as it continues to fend off crippling sanctions over its nuclear weapons and missile programs, will give the Chinese and North Korean sides a fresh chance to coordinate strategy ahead of the planned second Trump summit.

Both Trump and Kim have alluded to a summit being in the works.


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