North Korea's Kim Jong Un arrives in Beijing for talks

Trump touts 'good relationship' with N. Korea

On Tuesday morning, Chinese state media and North Korean state media confirmed that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had traveled to China for a fourth summit meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

South Korean media also reported Monday night that a private armored train believed to be Kim's was embarking on an overnight trip to China.

The latest visit came at the invitation of President Xi and coincided with what was believed to be Mr Kim's 35th birthday yesterday.

At their summit in Buenos Aires on December 1, Xi and Trump agreed that the United States and China will hold off on imposing further tariffs on each other's imports and try to complete talks on technology and intellectual property rights issues within 90 days.

A whirlwind of diplomacy enveloped the Korean peninsula previous year, with Kim also meeting the South's President Moon Jae-in three times, and culminating in his high-profile Singapore summit with Trump in June.

"As to in what form this is reflected, I don't think there's a need to read too much into it", Lu said, adding that U.S. trade talks and Kim's visit were unrelated.

In an interview with CNBC on Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised China's support for resolving the North Korean crisis and said he did not think the US trade dispute with Beijing would affect this.

In a New Year's speech, Kim warned Washington the country might be forced to take an alternative path if the U.S.

South Korea's Yonhap, without identifying its sources, said the two leaders held talks for an hour in which they discussed the second U.S.

"Forcing the USA out of Korea, and out of East Asia, is more important to Beijing than reigning in ... a self-confident or even provocative North Korea", he wrote.

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang gave no details about Kim's schedule or China's role as an intermediary between the USA and North Korea.

The US delegation - led by Deputy US Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish and including officials from the US departments of treasury, commerce, agriculture and energy - left its hotel without speaking to reporters ahead of the talks. However China's state-run Global Times newspaper appeared to reveal the birth year of the North Korean leader in a tweet.

Singapore enjoyed great publicity and financial gains as the host of the historic summit between Trump and Kim in June a year ago.

Mr Trump has offered assurances that another summit will allow he and Mr Kim to make a grand deal to settle the nuclear standoff and change a relationship marked by decades of animosity and mistrust.

Bloomberg News optimistically took Kim's meeting with Xi as a sign "negotiations over North Korea's nuclear arsenal may be regaining momentum after months without high-level diplomatic meetings".

"China has always supported both sides to continue to hold talks and to reach a positive outcome", Lu said. When asked whether North Korean officials would meet with USA officials during their visit, he said the delegations were at different levels. "Kim is eager to remind the Trump administration that he does have diplomatic and economic options besides what Washington and Seoul can offer", Harry J. Kazianis, Director of Defence Studies at USA -based Centre for the National Interest said in an e-mailed statement.

"Their behaviour has demonstrated that as well and we appreciate that", Pompeo said.

In May 2018, Trump once made a decision to cancel his planned talks with Kim, saying he detected North Korea starting to take a tougher stance against the United States in the wake of the second summit between Beijing and Pyongyang earlier in the month.

The North has held off on additional nuclear weapons and missile tests for more than a year, possibly in response to China's displeasure, while carrying out its new diplomatic offensive. "China has actually been a good partner in our efforts to reduce the risk to the world from North Korea's nuclear capability".

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