Kim Jong-un tours traditional Chinese medicine factory before heading back home

Kim Jong-un tours traditional Chinese medicine factory before heading back home

Kim Jong Un arrived on January 8 on an unannounced visit to Beijing for talks with President Xi Jinping, as preparations ramp up for an expected second summit with Donald Trump.

As North Korean leader Kim Jong Un head back to Pyongyang after a fourth meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, his South Korean counterpart, President Moon Jae-in looked forward to an imminent second summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump.

"The second North Korea-United States summit - to take place soon - and a reciprocal visit to Seoul by Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea will be.turning points that will firmly solidify peace on the Korean Peninsula", said Mr Moon in his speech.

"Ultimately, resolving the issue of North Korean sanctions is dependent on the speed of denuclearization, so North Korea needs to take bolder practical denuclearization steps", Moon said regarding the deadlock in US-North Korea negotiations.

The North's Korean Central News Agency stated Kim would be visiting China from Monday through Thursday.

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.

Kim also said North Korea hopes its "legitimate concerns" will be given due respect, a reference to its desire for security guarantees and a possible peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.

Kim held three summits previous year with Xi, his most important ally, before and after summits with Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Officially, at least, China says it considers the tariff battle and North Korea's weapons programs to be entirely separate. Keeping in mind that China is North Korea's only solid, powerful ally and Kim relies on them for much of his sputtering economy, Xi Jinping has significant leverage over North Korea.

Ties between China and North Korea, which had frayed as Pyongyang stepped up its missile and nuclear tests up to late 2017, warmed over the past year as Kim engaged with China, South Korea and the United States.

Many observers, including the China's nationalistic newspaper Global Times, felt the timing of Kim's trip, on Xi's invitation, was intentional.

Mr Moon said North Korea should take more concrete steps, such as abandoning its intercontinental and intermediate-range ballistic missiles and dismantling weapons production lines and other nuclear complexes, to secure U.S. concessions such as sanctions relief.

Kim visited a pharmaceutical plant that makes traditional Chinese medicine on Wednesday and met Xi again for lunch before heading home.

During the summit Kim met with Xi at the Great Hall of the People on Tuesday after a welcoming ceremony.

Mr. Kim could not be seen, but he was presumed to be on board the long train as it crossed on elevated tracks over a busy Beijing street and headed toward eastern China and the border with North Korea.

"China stands ready to work with the DPRK and relevant parties to play a positive and constructive role in maintaining peace and stability and realizing denuclearization on the peninsula and lasting peace and stability in the region". It came after US and North Korean officials were thought to have met in Vietnam to discuss the site of the summit. Tuesday also coincided with the North Korean leader's 35th birthday.

Pyongyang and Washington are known to be engaging in sub rosa talks for a ministerial-level meeting before the summit, to iron out denuclearization steps North Korea should take and corresponding measures from the U.S.

All sides should "jointly push for a comprehensive resolution of the Korean Peninsula issue", he said.

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