Saturday 26 May 2018

Kim and Xi take stroll along beach in surprise China visit

Kim Jong-un with Xi Jinping. Photo: Reuters
Kim Jong-un with Xi Jinping. Photo: Reuters

Neil Connor

Kim Jong-un has made a surprise visit to China, meeting President Xi Jinping ahead of an expected summit between the North Korean leader and US President Donald Trump.

The two-day visit to the north-east city of Dalian comes a month after Mr Kim visited China for the first time since taking power six years ago.

Images of the two leaders on the evening news in China showed them strolling along a beach in the port city.

"After the first meeting between me and Comrade Chairman (Kim), both China-DPRK relations and the Korean Peninsula situation have made positive progress. I feel happy about it," Mr Xi said, according to China's Xinhua news agency.

Mr Kim was quoted as saying: "These are the positive outcomes of the historic meeting between me and Comrade General Secretary (Xi)."

The Xinhua report also said that Mr Xi had held a "welcome banquet" for Mr Kim during the visit, which took place on Monday and yesterday.

"Together, they also took a stroll and attended a luncheon," Xinhua said. "In a cordial and friendly atmosphere, the top leaders of the two countries had an in-depth exchange of views on relations and major issues of common concern."

China and North Korea are historic allies but relations have been strained in recent years as Beijing backs hard-hitting UN sanctions against its neighbour amid concern over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons build-up.

Observers believe Mr Kim's visit to Beijing last month was an attempt to build bridges.

China would also be seeking to ensure it is not sidelined when Mr Kim meets with the US president, possibly at the end of this month.

Chinese media announced the visit after intense speculation that a high-ranking North Korean official had visited Dalian amid tight security and the spotting of a North Korean airliner at the city's airport.

Mr Kim's last visit to China was only announced when he had returned to North Korea.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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