Second summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump 'may be imminent'

A vehicle in the motorcade of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Beijing China on Jan 9 2019

Kim's visit to China, confirmed by North Korean and Chinese state media, comes amid plans for a second summit with US President Donald Trump aimed at denuclearising the Korean peninsula.

There has been little progress made between the United States and North Korea since the historic Singapore summit in June - the first ever meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting USA president.

China is the North's sole major ally and key trade partner but relations had deteriorated over Pyongyang's nuclear activities, before warming up previous year, with Kim meeting Xi three times.

But it may also have sent a message to Trump that Pyongyang has other options if rapprochement with Washington fails.

His approval rating hit stratospheric levels during the first set of summits past year between himself and Kim, and later between the North Korean and USA leaders in Singapore.

He also said China would be ready to play a "positive and constructive role" towards maintaining peace and achieving denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula, reported Xinhua.

The unannounced trip was largely shrouded in secrecy.

Pyongyang could be using the visit to show the U.S. that it has an "alternative power to gravitate towards", according to Tai Wei Lim, a research fellow at the National University of Singapore.

During his trip to Beijing, Xi hosted a dinner reception for Kim on Tuesday night, the 35th birthday of the North Korean leader.

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The US president's strategy of maximum pressure depends largely on cooperation from Xi.

The North Korean leader visited China at Xi's invitation for the fourth time in less than a year.

Trump had yet to respond to Kim Jong-un's China trip but tweeted Tuesday: "Talks with China are going very well!" And while Beijing hasn't formally claimed to be ignoring enforcement, reports about "pockets of sanctions violations" are growing, he added.

Among those in Kim's entourage were Kim Yong-chol, a key nuclear negotiator with the US, and North Korea's foreign and defense ministers, Yonhap noted.

"He wants to have his cake and eat it too", argues James Kim. But now, after the meeting in Beijing, Kim appears to be singing a different tune.

While Kim was in China, Xi's government was in talks with a visiting USA delegation over a trade war that has been extracting a financial cost on the world's two biggest economies.

Xi seeks an end to the ongoing trade dispute, which is hurting the Chinese economy.

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

According to the official readout by China's Xinhua News Agency of Kim and Xi's meeting this week in Beijing, Xi "supported [North Korea] and the United States holding summits and achieving results".

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Kim's visit also takes place amid trade talks between Washington and Beijing.

Mr Kim renewed his resolve to meet Mr Trump again during his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing this week. The two sides have a truce that expires March 1.

Cho added that Kim's visit to China this week is "quite a good sign for that".

In his address to the nation last week, Kim outlined goals to upgrade North Korea's industrial capabilities, especially in pharmaceuticals. The factory is run by Tong Ren Tang, the country's largest producer of traditional Oriental medicine. But others say Moon simply made a symbolic, conciliatory gesture toward North Korea.

But progress has since stalled with Pyongyang and Washington disagreeing over what that means.

The Chinese leader has yet to visit North Korea since taking office in 2012.

While Pyongyang hasn't conducted any launches or detonations in more than a year, it's displayed no real intention of abandoning the programs, which are seen as guaranteeing the hardline communist regime's survival.

"That seems to be fairly clear and out in the open now".

"We've been saying we should continue diplomatic discussions on the issue and should not hurt our forward-looking relationship with Japan", Moon told a news conference.

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While Beijing has been angered by Kim's nuclear tests, it would not be happy to see its decades-old ally move closer to the United States at China's expense. -North Korea summit and expressed hopes of further improvements in diplomatic ties and steps toward denuclearization of North Korea.

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