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N Korea's Kim ends Beijing visit as Trump summit looms

AFP  |  Beijing 

Kim Jong Un's train left on Wednesday after the North Korean leader visited his key ally on a trip seen as a strategy session ahead of his expected summit with

Kim arrived in on Tuesday for his fourth visit to Pyongyang's sole major diplomatic friend, reportedly visiting a factory and meeting

The North Korean leader's motorcade was spotted arriving at the central railway station early afternoon, and the train departed shortly after on a day-long ride back to the northeast border, according to AFP journalists.

The unannounced trip was largely shrouded in secrecy. Beyond confirming his presence in Beijing, no details have been provided by either or on his schedule.

Kim met for one hour with Chinese on Tuesday -- believed to be the North Korean leader's birthday -- and the two later dined with their wives at of the People, according to South Korea's agency.

The meeting focused on Kim's expected meeting with Trump, according to

In a New Year speech, Kim warned that may change its approach to nuclear talks if persists with sanctions.

Relations between and had deteriorated in recent years over Pyongyang's nuclear activities, but Kim has made sure to keep Xi informed about his dealings with the and as ties appear to have warmed.

"In order to resist the high pressure of the US, he must communicate with Xi in advance to see what steps he can take to deal with Trump," Beijing-based told AFP.

"Kim needs the support of Xi so as to ask the US to make substantial steps, such as providing assistance to and normalising relations with North Korea," Hua said.

Kim chose for his maiden official trip abroad last year before holding meetings with South Korean Moon Jae-in and Trump.

Trump said Sunday that the and North Korea are negotiating the location of their next summit.

Discussions between the US and North Korea over Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal have stalled since Kim and Trump's high-profile summit in in June where they issued a vaguely worded declaration about denuclearisation.

The insists that sanctions must remain in place until North Korea gives up its weapons, while wants them immediately eased. China also wants the sanctions to be relaxed.

But Chinese officials also likely want to impress on Kim -- who has so far pursued only limited reforms to his statist economy -- the benefits the giant Communist country has enjoyed in its transformation from impoverished nation to economic powerhouse.

Yonhap, citing unidentified sources, reported that Kim toured a factory operated by medicine firm for about half an hour in an economic zone in the Chinese capital.

He then went to the where he was expected to have lunch with Xi before his departure.

"For North Korea itself, 2019 is his strategic turning point. If he wants to shift his focus to the development of the economy, he needs China's cooperation," said Lu Chao, a North Korea expert at

"China will also introduce some successful experiences to Kim to help North Korea achieve economic transformation and realise the denuclearisation of the peninsula as soon as possible," Lu told AFP.

In the New Year speech, Kim focused on North Korea's moribund economy, saying that improving people's lives was his top priority and tackling was an urgent task.

Hua, the Beijing-based analyst, said changes in the economic model will affect politics, "which poses new challenges to his control over the country." "For this point, he must ask for advice from China."

The visit coincided with negotiations between US and Chinese officials in Beijing to resolve a bruising trade war between the world's two biggest economies.

Some analysts say China could use its cooperation on the North Korean issue as a in the US trade talks. But Hua said Kim's visit would have a "limited" effect on the trade negotiations.

"The Sino-US trade negotiations are a matter between China and the US. The weight of North Korea is limited and cannot play a decisive role," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, January 09 2019. 13:45 IST
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