Where could Kim Jong Un meet Donald Trump?

Where could Kim Jong Un meet Donald Trump?

Kerry Wise
March 28, 2018

The South Korean government has been striving Tuesday to verify news reports that a high-ranking North Korean official, possibly leader Kim Jong-un, is visiting China. Nippon TV showed footage of the train arriving in Beijing on Monday.

North Korea's diplomatic outreach to South Korea and the United States followed an unusually provocative year of weapons tests and has been seen as an attempt, in part, to improve a struggling economy crushed the heavy sanctions those test brought about.

But if it was Kim Jong Un, it would be his first known trip outside of North Korea since the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in December 2011.

Though allies, the China-North Korean relations went through some testing times since Kim took over as the supreme leader of the country as he pressed ahead with his nuclear programme disregarding caution from Beijing. China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said she was "unaware of the situation".

A special train is seen at Beijing Railway Station in Beijing on Tuesday.

If it's not Kim it could be his sister, Kim Yo Jong, who the leader sent to South Korea last month to attend the Winter Olympics bearing the offer of a summit.

Kim is expected to meet with the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in, in April and to hold a summit with the USA president, Donald Trump, in May.

South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported in 2009 that the train, when used for traveling around North Korea, is flanked by two other trains, one handling reconnaissance and the other security.

Kim verbally agreed, but didn't think it would be publicized or happen so soon.

While China and the USA have shown a united front in putting diplomatic pressure on North Korea over its nuclear programme and missile tests, Donald Trump's plans to put tariffs on Chinese goods have complicated the picture in recent days.

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China has been largely sidelined by the developments between the two Koreas and the United States, although it has repeatedly given public backing for talks between Washington and the Koreas.

# SOUTH KOREA KEEPING A CLOSE WATCH: "The presidential Blue House is watching things in Beijing very closely while keeping all possibilities open", said a senior official in Seoul, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Beijing is the main ally of secretive and isolated North Korea, as well as its biggest trading partner.

"The fact that the summits are being held has been beyond our expectations".

The younger Kim has not undertaken any official trip overseas since taking power following his father's death in December 2011.

A life-sized mock-up of one of the train's carriages is on permanent display in the ornate mausoleum on the outskirts of Pyongyang where national founder Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il lie in state.

"But whether Workers' Party of Korea Chairman Kim Jong-un is visiting China has not been verified".

On the contrary, the official said, a summit with Xi would underscore Kim's standing as a world leader.

North Korean news media has a history of publishing its former leader's China visits but only after he almost finished his trips, probably because of security reasons. And despite the Kim family's train leaving North Korea for Beijing, Pyongyang hasn't said a word.