North Korean leader Kim Jong-un left Beijing after talking and dining with Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to South Korean media, in a show of unity as they engage in delicate negotiations with President Donald Trump’s administration.
Kim spent a little more than a day in the Chinese capital and was en route to Pyongyang on Wednesday, Yonhap News Agency of South Korea reported, citing unidentified officials. His delegation was seen off by high-ranking Chinese officials and honour guard at a Beijing train station and could return to North Korea as soon as Thursday, Yonhap said.
The trip — Kim’s fourth to China since March — suggests negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear arsenal are gaining momentum after months without high-level diplomatic exchanges. Trump is seeking a second summit with Kim to reenergise talks that have made little headway since their first meeting in June, saying a date would be announced “in the not-too-
Given the limited speeds of the heavily fortified Kim uses to travel, it could takes 12 to 14 hours for him to reach the Chinese border city of Dandong, about 840 kilometres away, meaning he might spend the night in one of its luxury carriages before returning home.
Kim spoke with Xi for about an hour, discussing ways to strengthen their ties and lay out strategy for a potential summit between Kim and Trump on curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, Yonhap reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the talks.
The DongA Ilbo newspaper said that Xi hosted Kim to a banquet, which was held on the date believed to be North Korean leader’s 35th birthday. Kim could be looking to leverage his relationship with Xi, who Trump has accused of relaxing pressure on North Korea, to push the US to make concessions in nuclear talks.