North Korea's Kim Visits China Ahead of Possible Trump Summit

North Korean envoy to Italy goes missing

The North Korean leader, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju and several senior officials, set off from Pyongyang on his private train on Monday, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.

China's Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un held three summits past year before and after meetings with Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Kim would return to China twice: once before his summit meeting with U.S. President Donald J. Trump in Singapore in May and once after, in June.

U.S. officials held a second day of trade talks with Chinese counterparts in Beijing on Tuesday, overshadowed by an unannounced visit from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Awks much? Slightly, but Mr Kim's train ride to Beijing is still good news for the USA president, as Mr Kim makes the trip to China before important summits (this is his fourth to the country).

Trump said his administration has a "very good dialogue" with Pyongyang, adding: "Now I say this, North Korea, we're doing very well".

North Korea's top diplomat to Italy, who South Korea's spy agency says has gone into hiding along with his wife, appears to be the latest member of the North's elite to abandon the secretive totalitarian state.

The trip began under the usual veil of secrecy and Kim has not been spotted in public since a motorcade believed to be carrying the North Korean entourage left a Beijing train station under heavy security early on Tuesday.

The trip marked a break with past practice in that it was announced in advance of Kim's arrival, a possible sign of growing confidence on the part of North Korea and China, the North's most important trading partner and a key buffer against pressure from Washington.

A second summit could address concerns to global security after Kim piled pressure on Trump by threatening in his annual New Year's address to take a "new path", if the USA didn't relax economic sanctions.

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Kim's statement about how he might have to choose a "new way" to guarantee the North's sovereignty and secure a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula caught the eye of many foreign analysts.

Trump recently said that he will meet Kim again in the "not too distant future", after the North Korean leader sent a letter to the USA president saying he is "always ready" to strike an agreement with Washington.

Since a year ago, Xi and Kim has cultivated closer ties in what had previously been a frosty relationship.

"China has always supported North Korea and the U.S.to hold talks and to reach a positive outcome", Lu said.

Possibly fearing the economic effect of crushing outside sanctions imposed because of his weapons' tests, Kim abruptly turned to diplomacy with Seoul and Washington past year.

During the surprise meeting at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Kim told Xi he was committed to giving up his nuclear arsenal.

The two met last June in what was the first such meeting for a sitting U.S. president.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's surprising "birthday" trip to China has strengthened the view that Beijing will use denuclearization talks as a bargaining chip for future trade negotiations with the United States.

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

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