North Korea should take 'bold' steps toward denuclearization - South Korea's Moon

Kim arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for his fourth visit to Pyongyang´s sole major diplomatic friend

Singapore and Vietnam are likely to be shortlisted to host a second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and United States President Donald Trump, South Korean foreign affairs ministry officials said on Thursday (Jan 10). The first two summits were not reported until after Kim left China, and the third was disclosed on the second day of his visit.

Like Mr Moon, Mr Xi had emphasised the importance of both sides compromising, suggesting the leaders needed to "meet each other halfway" to break the deadlock.

South Korea's Ambassador to the USA says he is hopeful that a second meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will take place.

Details of what Kim and Xi discussed have yet to be revealed, but their summit is seen as an opportunity to strategize ahead of a second North Korea-U.S. summit meant to move along denuclearization negotiations. "Judging from the delegation lineup, the mission appears to place emphasis on North Korea's continuing diplomatic outreach and nuclear and security issues", Aoki said.

The North Korean leader's trip to China this week was a sign a second Trump-Kim summit was "imminent", he added.

Tuesday was Kim's birthday but there was no word of any official celebration.

China benefits greatly from having a stable North Korea on their border as a buffer zone between them and the more western oriented South Korea.

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

Kim's Beijing visit was seen as part of an effort to win Chinese support for a reduction of United Nations sanctions imposed over his nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Pyongyang is demanding the easing of sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, while Washington insists they must remain in place until it gives up its atomic arms - something it has made no public promise to do.

The schedule and route this time was similar to Kim's first trip to Beijing by train last March.

In his New Year's message, Mr. Kim reiterated his resolve to remain committed to denuclearisation, however, the North Korean leader warned that he would change course if USA sanctions remained.

Xi was quoted as saying that China supports the U.S. He also added that the Chinese government is willing and ready to play a "positive and constructive role" towards maintaining peace and achieving "denuclearisation" on the Korean peninsula. Experts agree that while neither the USA nor China is "winning" in the trade war, China may be at a disadvantage.

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.

Each of the previous Kim-Xi meetings have come shortly before or after the North Korean's summits with either Trump or South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

Conditions for resuming two key economic projects between North and South Korea - the Kaesong Industrial Complex, where Southern companies used to employ North Korean workers, and Southern tourism to Mount Kumgang in the North "have essentially been met already", he said.

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