North Korea: Kim Jong Un Visits China Ahead of Trump Summit

Saul Bowman
January 9, 2019

A whirlwind of diplomacy enveloped the Korean peninsula past year, with Kim also meeting the South's President Moon Jae-in three times, and culminating in his high-profile Singapore summit with Trump in June.

Kim's fourth visit to China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping came with USA and Chinese senior trade officials holding a meeting in Beijing, where Washington may have put strong pressure on the Asian power to stem its alleged unfair business practices.

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.

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

The source told Yonhap it had not been confirmed whether a senior official was on board, but that dozens of security vehicles and officials had blocked the roads around a station in the Chinese border city of Dandong as the train passed.

Meanwhile, North Korean state media aired footage of Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, boarding the train departing Pyongyang.

With its relations with Pyongyang remaining at an impasse, the United States has become anxious that China may seize the initiative on denuclearization negotiations with North Korea, pundits say.

His fourth visit to China comes a week after Kim warned in a New Year's speech that Pyongyang may change its approach to nuclear talks if Washington persists with sanctions.

Jo was acting ambassador since Italy expelled the previous ambassador, Mun Jong-nam, in September 2017 to protest a North Korean nuclear test.


A separate geopolitical issue angered China on Monday when a US Navy guided-missile destroyer sailed near disputed islands in the South China Sea a vast expanse claimed by Beijing.

The spokesman says he hopes impending China-North Korea talks will also help contribute to achieving complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

"Underlying everything is the fact that North Korea resents being so dependent on Beijing and China wishes North Korea would be a more pliable, less provocative vassal state that embraces the Chinese model of economic reform", Oba said.

Hanoi - about a four-hour direct flight from Pyongyang and in airspace over countries friendly to North Korea - boasts several top-class hotels. And Trump said he had received a "great letter" from Kim.

Going back even further, Kim reportedly travelled with his father, Kim Jong Il, to China in 2010.

But past year, he visited China three times. "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".

The talks between the US delegation led by Deputy US Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish and including officials from the Treasury, Commerce, Agriculture and Energy departments and the Chinese side were still ongoing late Tuesday, a source told AFP on condition of anonymity. Kim is also expected to meet Moon again soon, possibly in Seoul.

The two met last June, the first such meeting for a sitting U.S. president.

"Their behaviour has demonstrated that as well and we appreciate that", Pompeo said.

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