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With Trump in waiting, Kim courts China's support

With Trump in waiting, Kim courts China's support

The North Korean leader is accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju, as well as senior officials including negotiator Kim Yong Chol and Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.

In this photo taken between May 7 and 8, 2018 released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, (R) speaks to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Dalian in northeastern China's Liaoning Province.

Kim traveled to China - his most important security and trade partner - before meetings a year ago with Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

South Korean media have reported that Vietnam could be the venue for a second summit between Kim and U.S. president Donald Trump, as multiple meetings have recently been held between U.S. and North Korean officials in Hanoi.

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.

Dozens of security vehicles and officials blocked the roads around a train station in the Chinese border city of Dandong through which the train passed, according to Yonhap.

The South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo previously reported that Mark Lambert, a senior U.S. State Department official handling North Korea issues, visited Vietnam in December.

Yonhap said the train was expected to reach Beijing at about 10 am Tuesday local time.

Three times he visited China, which is North Korea's most important trading partner and a key buffer against pressure from Washington.

"In fact, during his New Year's Days speech, Kim's "new way" that he referred to may well have been a veiled threat to move closer to Beijing".




Asked whether China was linking the two issues in an interview Monday with CNBC, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, "The Chinese have been very clear to us that these are separate issues".

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.

On Tuesday, Chinese state media ran front-page stories heralding South Korea and North Korea's progress - a passenger train travelled from Seoul to North Korea on December 26, the first since the Korean War in 1953.

Washington is demanding Pyongyang gives up its nuclear arsenal before any relief from economic sanctions is granted, while the North is insisting on immediate concessions from the US.

But a year ago, he visited China three times.

"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.

North Korea has formal diplomatic ties with 26 European nations, as well as Britain and Germany, since 2013, Seoul's Unification Ministry says.

Diplomatic sources said the last Italy heard of him was when officials received a note past year from the North Korean government saying that Mr Jo was being replaced.

Armed with that information, Kim might know how much he can push back against the Trump administration if it refuses to compromise on sanctions, Kazianis said.

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