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

With another nuclear summit looming between Kim and US President Donald Trump, a meeting between President Xi Jinping and the North Korean leader was inevitable, according to analysts. Xi Jinping on Tuesday held talks with Kim Jong Un, who arrived in Beijing on the same day for a visit to China.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, Xi said he hopes North Korea and the United States will "meet each other halfway".

South Korean Ambassador to the United States Cho Yoon-je told reporters in Washington Tuesday that "back-channel talks" are taking place between Pyongyang and Washington, adding that "because of the resoluteness of President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un, we may be able to look forward to preparatory talks for a North-U.S. summit in the near future".

The US is refraining from negative comments on Kim's trip because China has been tough on the enforcement of United Nations sanctions against North Korea and trade talks with Beijing are going smoothly, said Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy. "But we are using various channels including the embassy in Beijing to communicate with 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.

Still, China has denied any interest in using North Korea as a bargaining chip and doing so risked undermining a source of stability in its strained relations with the U.S.

He also credited Chinese President Xi Jinping with helping reduce regional tensions, saying 'the Korean Peninsula situation has been easing since previous year, and China's important role in this process is obvious to all'.

While North Korea hasn't conducted any launches or detonations in more than a year, it's displayed no real intention of abandoning the programs that are seen as guaranteeing the hard-line communist regime's survival.

Another US-North Korea summit would also expedite an unprecedented visit by the North Korean leader to Seoul, planned for past year but delayed amid the nuclear standoff, Mr Moon said.

North Korea wants relief from the multiple sets of sanctions imposed on it over its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs, while the USA wants them to remain in place until it gives up its arms - something Pyongyang has made no public promise to do.

This was Kim's fourth trip to China in less than a year and also came on his 36th birthday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's recent trip to China reflected Kim's desire to continue talks with Washington and keep his denuclearization promise.

South Korea and Japan share a bitter history that includes Japan's 1910-45 colonization of the Korean Peninsula, the forced mobilization of labor at Japanese companies and other issues.

-China trade war. The U.S. He also added that the Chinese government is willing and ready to play a "positive and constructive role" towards maintaining peace and achieving "denuclearisation" on the Korean peninsula.

"The Sino-US trade negotiations are a matter between China and the US", he said.

Pyongyang and Washington are known to be engaging in sub rosa talks for a ministerial-level meeting before the summit, to iron out denuclearization steps North Korea should take and corresponding measures from the U.S.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department has refrained from commenting on the meeting, which comes as a second summit between Kim and Trump is materializing.

Vanessa Coleman

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