North Korea's Kim Jong-un takes train to China

Trump Says Washington Is Seeking Location for Another Summit With North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

A long motorcade including motorcycle outriders reserved for state leaders left a Beijing train station shortly after the arrival of an armoured train consisting of 20 to 25 cars - most of whose windows were blacked out - along tracks lined by police and paramilitary troops.

Vietnam has delivered to both South and North Korea its wish to host the envisioned summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Kim, accompanied by his wife and top North Korean officials, was "warmly seen off by leading officials of the Party, government and armed forces organs at the railway stations", North Korea's state news agency announced.

Kim used the same train to visit China a year ago.

China is the isolated, nuclear-armed North's key diplomatic ally and main source of trade and aid, and the visit is likely to heighten speculation about the potential meeting with the United States president, as Kim could coordinate his strategy with Xi. The year of his birth has always remained a mystery, as North Korea has never revealed it.

Earlier, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that a North Korean train "possibly carrying a senior official" had crossed the border into China, passing through the Chinese border city of Dandong.

At a regular briefing on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang had this to say when asked whether there was a connection between the visit and a possible second Trump Kim summit. The two countries' state media are seen to have coordinated the announcement.

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The carriages used by Kim Jong Il - a Macintosh computer on his desk - and his own father and predecessor, the North's founder Kim Il Sung, are now on display at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang, where both late leaders' bodies lie in state. It is expected Kim will hold a summit with Xi in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and attend a welcome banquet. Tuesday was his birthday.

Two of Kim's earlier visits a year ago came shortly before historic summits with both South Korea's Moon Jae-In and US President Donald Trump.

While there were no details released about the possible agenda in China, Kim has been seeking relief from worldwide sanctions, a peace declaration to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War, and more economic investment.

"As to in what form this is reflected, I don't think there's a need to read too much into it", Lu said, adding that USA trade talks and Kim's visit were unrelated.

In his New Year's address, Kim said he is ready to meet with Trump "anytime". "USA and North Korean officials are believed to have met in Vietnam to discuss the location of a second summit", the Associated Press reports.

On Monday, the first day of the two-day vice ministerial-level trade talks, the USA missile destroyer sailed near a group of islands in the waters claimed by China, as part of the Pentagon's "freedom of navigation" operation aimed at challenging Beijing's military activities there. Trump has at times linked the U.S.

It is hoped that the US and South Korea can accurately understand the constructive significance of amicable China-North Korea ties to push ahead with denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

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Kim made two visits to China before his June 12 summit with Trump, and one after the Singapore summit.

Neither KCNA nor Xinhua provided further information on Kim's itinerary, though South Korea's Hankyoreh newspaper said on Monday that he will meet with China's Xi for a fourth summit. That visit has yet to take place.

He went to Beijing again after the Singapore summit to brief Mr Xi and discuss economic cooperation. During the final trip, Xi accepted an invitation from Kim to visit Pyongyang.

South Korea's presidential Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said separately on Thursday that South Korea hoped Kim's visit would contribute to efforts to secure permanent peace on the peninsula.

He called for more frequent inter-Korean meetings this year.

Bloomberg News optimistically took Kim's meeting with Xi as a sign "negotiations over North Korea's nuclear arsenal may be regaining momentum after months without high-level diplomatic meetings".

But the U.S. has been insisting on their continuance. Tuesday also happens to be Kim's birthday.

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