World

Kim visits China after warning of alternate path to US talks

North Korean leader's presence may be 'veiled threat' against US: Analysts

BEIJING : North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is visiting China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, days after warning that he may take an alternative path if the US does not ease sanctions on his isolated country.

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

Mr Kim held three summits last year with Mr Xi, his most important ally, before and after summits with Mr Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae In.

"Kim is eager to remind the Trump administration that he does have diplomatic and economic options besides what Washington and Seoul can offer," Mr Harry J. Kazianis, director of defence studies at US-based Centre for the National Interest said in an e-mail.

"In fact, during his New Year's Day speech, Kim's 'new way' that he referred to may well have been a veiled threat to move closer to Beijing."

Mr Kim left for China on a private train on Monday afternoon accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju and senior officials, North Korea's state-run KCNA news agency said.

China's official Xinhua news agency also confirmed that Mr Kim is visiting from Monday to tomorrow at Mr Xi's invitation.

A green train with a yellow stripe, similar to the one Mr Kim took to Beijing last year, arrived at a station in the Chinese capital amid heightened security, though it was not immediately clear if Mr Kim, his wife, and the North Korean officials were aboard. A motorcade with heavy security later drove through central Beijing.

Mr Kim's visit comes as a US delegation opened a second day of talks with its Chinese counterparts in Beijing aimed at ending the trade war between them.

Mr Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at Renmin University in Beijing, said Mr Kim's trip would have no direct influence on the trade talks.

"From the other prospective, this is something that can indirectly be used to show the US that China is not playing without any cards in hand," Mr Shi said.

He added that Mr Kim would "certainly call on Xi Jinping to give North Korea more economic assistance".

While there were no details about the possible agenda in China, Mr Kim has been seeking relief from international sanctions, a peace declaration to formally end the Korean War, and more economic investment.- REUTERS

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