In China, Kim Jong Un Tries to Expand His Leverage

In China, Kim Jong Un Tries to Expand His Leverage

Mr Moon said Mr Kim's latest trip to Beijing signalled that a second summit was imminent.

Kim Jong-un visits a Tong Ren Tang pharmaceutical plant in Yizhuang, Beijing on Wednesday. What Kim actually wants is significant sanctions relief and written assurances that he won't be removed from power after standing down his nuclear capabilities.

Kim later met with Xi for a second consecutive day, having a luncheon around noon at the five-star Beijing Hotel, which has a long history of hosting important receptions, near Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

Kim's motorcade left around noon for the Beijing Hotel, where he was seen to have lunch with Xi. However, neither side has provided details of what he did since arriving aboard his personal armored train Tuesday morning.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his sister Kim Yo-jong (red-dotted) wave aboard a train to Beijing on Monday.

Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan hosted a welcome banquet for Kim and his wife Ri Sol Ju and they watched an art performance together, according to Xinhua.

Tuesday was Kim's birthday.

Beijing is intent on keeping Pyongyang within its sphere of influence - the North acts as a buffer state, keeping the 28,500 USA troops in South Korea far from China's borders.

On January 7 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made an official visit to Beijing where he held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. This was a departure as the movements of the North Korean leader are usually reported after his trip is over and he has returned home safely.

Beijing stands ready to "play a positive and constructive role in maintaining peace and stability and realising denuclearisation on the peninsula and lasting peace and stability in the region", it cited him as saying.

The fact that Kim's visit came at the same time United States negotiators were in China to discuss an end to the trade war is also unlikely to be a coincidence, said Sangsoo Lee, head of the Stockholm-based Korea Center at the Institute for Security and Development Policy, adding that there could "political intention" behind it.

Xi was quoted as saying that China supports the U.S.

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

"If Washington will not give him (Kim) economic concessions, China in a subtle way nearly certainly will. albeit with the expectation he does make progress and does not return to belligerence".

Moon, a liberal who took office in 2017, has shuttled between North Korea and the United States to facilitate high-profile nuclear diplomacy including the Kim-Trump summit in Singapore last June.

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 government's survival. Other times, he has praised China's efforts as interlocutor.

He did not elaborate what such an alternative path could be.

He also said there was "skepticism" that Kim's "concept of denuclearization" will be different from that demanded by the US. This indicated a possible expanded role for Beijing in the upcoming denuclearization negotiation process. "China will continue to work with all relevant parties to jointly move forward this process", said Lu.

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in said in October that Xi was expected to visit North Korea "soon".

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang, asked during a daily briefing whether there was a connection between Kim's visit and the possibility of another meeting between Kim and Trump, said China believed contact between the United States and North Korea was important.

The high-level meeting was supposed to happen in early November in NY but was postponed on the request of Pyongyang.

North Korea will "make efforts for the second summit between (North Korean) and USA leaders to achieve results that will be welcomed by the worldwide community", Kim was quoted as saying by China's official Xinhua News Agency.

"On Secretary Pompeo's visit to North Korea, we don't have any travel to announce at all", US State Department spokesperson Katina Adams said in response to Radio Free Asia's request for comment Tuesday.

On Tuesday, CNN reported that White House scouting teams visited Bangkok, Hanoi and Hawaii to inspect whether the locations are suitable for the meeting. It comes after US and North Korean officials are thought to have met in Vietnam to discuss the site of the summit.

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