Kim Jong Un concludes China visit ahead of possible 2nd Trump summit

Xi Fetes Kim Jong-un with Lavish Birthday Banquet

On whether Kim's Beijing visit was related to a second North Korea-U.S. summit, Lu Kang, spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said in a briefing Tuesday, "China maintains that it is very useful for the DPRK and the U.S.as key parties to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue to maintain contacts".

Experts think Kim's China trip was meant to discuss strategies with his closest ally ahead of a possible summit with Trump, adding that it also appears aimed at strengthening the North's negotiating leverage by demonstrating its strong ties with Beijing.

"In a word, Chairman Kim Jong Un's visit to China is an indication that the second North Korea-U.S. summit is drawing near", Moon said. But others say Moon simply made a symbolic, conciliatory gesture toward North Korea.

Mr Moon said Kim's Beijing visit was a "sign" that a second face-to-face meeting with Mr Trump may be imminent.

There has been little progress made between the United States and North Korea since the historic Singapore summit in June - the first ever meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting USA president.

China apparently prepared a grand banquet for Kim, whose 35th birthday was on Tuesday.

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

China is the North Korea's sole major ally and key trade partner.

Kim Jong-un visits a Tong Ren Tang pharmaceutical plant in Yizhuang, Beijing on Wednesday.

If Xi Jinping has lit a fire under Kim's butt to bring him back to the table and start tearing down his warheads and missles, he may wind up doing us a far bigger favor than any new trade deal. The North Korean leader confirmed he remains committed to the consensus reached during the Singapore summit with Donald Trump previous year.

More news: Thai, Saudi officials meet over case of young Saudi woman seeking asylum

Shi Yinhong, an global relations professor at Renmin University in Beijing, said Kim's trip would have no direct influence on the progress of trade talks.

North Korean and Chinese state media announced his visit shortly in advance of his arrival in Beijing, in a break with standard protocol dictating such trips are only confirmed after they happen.

There was a "rare historic opportunity" for a political settlement on the peninsula, Xi said according to Xinhua, and China "supports the DPRK and the United States holding summits and achieving results".

"We will not loosen our guard until the promise to denuclearize the peninsula is kept and peace is fully institutionalized", Moon said.

Kim has said openly that his goal remains modernising the North Korean economy, which he underlined by visiting a traditional Chinese medicine factory in Beijing on Wednesday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves from his train before it departs from Pyongyang to make the trip to Beijing, China, Jan. 7, 2019.

Among those in Kim's entourage were Kim Yong-chol, a key nuclear negotiator with the US, and North Korea's foreign and defense ministers, Yonhap noted. Experts agree that while neither the United States nor China is "winning" in the trade war, China may be at a disadvantage.

"If Washington will not give him (Kim) economic concessions, China in a subtle way nearly certainly will. albeit with the expectation he does make progress and does not return to belligerence".

North Korea needs to take "more bold, practical measures for denuclearization" to ensure sanctions are lifted, the South's President Moon Jae-in said Thursday, January 10, with negotiations stalling between Pyongyang and Washington.

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