Kim Jong-un in Beijing to meet Xi ahead of possible second summit with Trump
The North’s official Rodong Sinmun reported Tuesday that Kim, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol-ju and top aides, kicked off a four-day visit to China Monday at the invitation of Xi.
This marks Kim’s fourth trip to China in the last nine months. His first meeting with Xi was a surprise visit last March. That was also the first time the North Korean leader left his country since he took his post in late 2011 after the death of his father.
On this trip, Kim is accompanied by “leading” officials including Kim Yong-chol, vice chairman of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party Central Committee, Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and Defense Minister No Kwang-chol, reported the North’s state media.
It added that officials saw off the leader and his entourage, who took a private train to China Monday afternoon.
South Korean media reported that Kim’s private train crossed into China Monday night.
Kim may seek China’s support in gaining sanctions relief.
Likewise, the two leaders could discuss strategy ahead a second North-U.S. summit, which could take place later this month or February.
Today is also Kim's birthday.
Kim made three previous visits to China this year, two before his June 12 summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, and one after the Singapore summit.
In a New Year’s address, Kim said that he is ready to meet with Trump “anytime.” Trump in turn last week confirmed he had received a personal letter from Kim and told reporters Sunday that a location for a second summit will be announced “in the not too distant future.”
Xi likewise is expected to make a visit to Pyongyang, as the two countries mark the 70th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties this year.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]