Friday 14 December 2018

Kim Jong Un in China to discuss next steps on nuclear programme

The North Korean leader is making his third visit to China, his main ally and key source of trade and economic assistance.

Kim Jong Un (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Kim Jong Un (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

By Christopher Bodeen and Dake Kang

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is making a two-day visit to China during which he is expected to discuss his next steps after his nuclear summit with Donald Trump last week.

Security was tight on Tuesday morning at Pyongyang Airport and later at Beijing Airport, where paramilitary police prevented journalists from taking photos.

A motorcade including minibuses, motorcycles and a stretch limo with a golden emblem similar to one Mr Kim has used previously was seen leaving the airport.

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A motorcade believed to be carrying Kim Jong Un leaves Beijing Airport (Andy Wong/AP)

Roads near the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, where senior Chinese officials meet visiting leaders, were closed and the same motorcade was later seen heading into the compound.

A ring of police vehicles and black saloon cars surrounded the perimeter of the guesthouse, where Mr Kim stayed on his first visit earlier this year.

A similar convoy of vehicles was later seen leaving the state guesthouse in the direction of the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing.

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A stretch limousine arrives at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing (Kyodo News/AP)

Mr Kim’s presence in Beijing and the schedule of his visit, including any meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, have not been confirmed.

The visit, while expected, is one way for China to highlight its crucial role in US efforts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme.

The US has long looked to Beijing to use its influence with North Korea to bring it to negotiations, but the visit comes as ties between China and Washington are being tested by a major trade dispute.

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Kim Jong Un with Xi Jinping at an earlier meeting in Dalian, China (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service/AP)

Mr Kim was diplomatically isolated for years before making his first foreign trip as leader in March to meet Mr Xi in Beijing.

This is his third visit to China, North Korea’s main ally and key source of trade and economic assistance.

After his summit with the US president, he was expected to meet Chinese leaders to discuss progress in halting his country’s missile and nuclear weapons programmes in exchange for economic incentives.

China’s foreign ministry refused to provide details on Kim’s visit other than to say that Beijing hopes it will help deepen relations between the countries.

Press Association

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