Kim 'talks Trump plan' with Xi in surprise Beijing visit

Top News | REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 9 Jan 2019

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Xi Jinping discussed an expected US-North Korea summit in talks in Beijing yesterday, reports said, days after Kim warned he may take an alternative path if Washington does not ease sanctions.

Kim's visit to China, confirmed by North Korean and Chinese state media, comes amid plans for a second summit with US President Donald Trump aimed at denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.

South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, without identifying its sources, said the two leaders held talks for an hour in which they discussed the second US-North Korea summit and strengthening bilateral ties.

The meeting was followed by a dinner hosted by Xi and his wife.

Kim held three summits last year with Xi, his most important ally, before and after summits with Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae In.

"Kim is eager to remind the Trump administration that he does have diplomatic and economic options besides what Washington and Seoul can offer," said Harry Kazianis, at the US-based Center for National Interest.

"In fact, during his New Year's Day speech, Kim's 'new way' that he referred to may well have been a veiled threat to move closer to Beijing. That should make America quite concerned."

Kim left for China on a private train on Monday afternoon accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol Ju, and senior North Korean officials. Xinhua News Agency confirmed that Kim was visiting from Monday to tomorrow at Xi's invitation.

The visit coincides with what is said to be Kim's 35th birthday yesterday.

It also comes as a US delegation opened a second day of trade talks with Chinese counterparts in Beijing.

"The Chinese have been very clear to us that these are separate issues," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

"Their behavior has demonstrated that as well and we appreciate that."

The trip began under the usual veil of secrecy and Kim had not been spotted in public since a motorcade left a Beijing train station under heavy security.

While the visit was the second item on China's important evening news broadcast, newscasters simply read out a statement from the morning without showing any images of the visit.

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