|North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un and his wife Ri Sol-ju are featured in this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency, Tuesday. The state media said Kim was visiting China from Monday to Thursday at Xi's invitation. KCNA-Yonhap|
By Kim Bo-eun
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Tuesday, on the second day of his four-day trip to China. The visit comes ahead of a possible second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.
The North's Korean Central News Agency stated Kim was visiting China, from Monday through Thursday, upon the invitation of Xi. Kim, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol-ju, and key officials including Kim Yong-chol, Ri Su-yong and Ri Yong-ho, traveled via his train, it said.
Kim is expected to share developments concerning the summit with Trump and discuss its agenda. Officials such as Kim Yong-chol are playing key roles in the North's denuclearization talks with the U.S.
Trump has continued to refer to a second summit with Kim in recent days, stating a date will be decided on soon, and that negotiations for the location were underway. These remarks came after Pyongyang and Washington failed to meet for ministerial-level talks to lay the groundwork for the summit.
|A vehicle believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-un leaves the railway station in Beijing, China, Tuesday. EPA-Yonhap|
The two have yet to work out denuclearization steps for North Korea to take and corresponding measures from the U.S. The countries are thought to be continuing to engage in sub-rosa contacts for high-level or working-level talks. Washington has urged Pyongyang to take verifiable denuclearization steps, since it pledged to work toward giving up its nuclear program at summits held last year.
The North Korean leader held his first meeting with Xi in China last March, ahead of his summit with Trump in June. This is Kim's fourth summit with Xi since he took power in December 2011. The meeting may signal China joining the process for denuclearization and achieving peace on the Korean Peninsula, which has been led by the Koreas and the U.S.Cheong Wa Dae welcomed the North Korean leader's visit to China.
"We hope the exchanges between China and North Korea will contribute to the complete denuclearization and settlement of lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula, and become a stepping stone for a second summit between North Korea and the U.S.," Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said.
|In this June 19, 2018, file photo provided by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Xinhua-Yonhap|
"We anticipate that exchanges between the South and North, and the North and China and the U.S. will create a virtuous cycle so that a breakthrough in one aspect will lead to breakthroughs in others."
He said there are no plans as of now for envoys to be exchanged by the South and North, or for a high-level meeting to take place between the Koreas after Kim's visit to China.
This is the first time a meeting between Kim and Xi has been reported on in advance of his arrival in Beijing. The reports came hours before the North Korean leader arrived in the Chinese capital around 10:55 a.m. Tuesday. Summits with Xi in March and May were not reported until after Kim left China. Reports of the June summit came on the second day of Kim's visit.
The visit is taking place on the 70th anniversary of North Korea-China ties; and also coincides with the North Korean leader's 35th birthday, Tuesday.