High-ranking North Korean official may be visiting China's Dalian

High-ranking North Korean official may be visiting China's Dalian

Kerry Wise
May 9, 2018

Throughout the day on Tuesday there was speculation on Chinese websites that a North Korean leader was in China, though China's foreign ministry said earlier it had no information and Chinese state media did not carry any reports.

The three still being held are Korean-American missionary Kim Dong Chul; Kim Sang-duk, who spent a month teaching at the foreign-funded Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) before he was arrested in 2017, and Kim Hak Song, who also taught at PUST.

Xi-Kim meeting took place amid concern in Beijing that the North Korean leader is getting too close to United States sidelining China pointing to its declining importance in the Korean Peninsula peace process.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to speak about trade and North Korea in a phone call on Tuesday morning, as Xi's top economic adviser plans additional talks in Washington following last week's trip by USA officials to Beijing.

Kim and Trump will reportedly occur in late May or early June, and make history as the first time a sitting U.S. president has met a sitting North Korean leader.

Xi and Kim had a surprise Wuhan-style informal summit at the northeastern port city of Dalian yesterday and today.

"China's top economic adviser, the vice premier, will be coming here next week to continue the discussions with the president's economic team". Also like last time, social media was abuzz with rumors of Kim's visit before any official confirmation. DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) is the official acronym for North Korea.

Chinese media confirmed that Kim had visited and met with Xi, according to Reuters' Josh Smith. Together, they also took a stroll and attended a luncheon, the agency said.

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According to the Xinhua report, Kim said he chose to meet Xi again to "inform him of the situation, hoping to strengthen strategic communication and cooperation with China, deepen DPRK-China friendship, and promote regional peace and stability".

Like the March summit in Beijing, the Dalian summit was kept secret until Kim's plane left for Pyongyang on Tuesday afternoon.

In March, Trump unexpectedly accepted an offer of talks from Kim after the North Korean dictator agreed to suspend nuclear and missile tests and discuss "denuclearization".

South Korea's presidential office said the Chinese government notified Seoul about the Xi-Kim meeting in advance.

Li is scheduled to visit Japan for four days from Tuesday to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae In.

"From now on, based on our deep mutual trust, we'll make bold steps towards peace and prosperity, and unification", Moon said.

But despite Trump's indication of an imminent release, Pompeo said that the plans have not been finalized.

Kim's second trip to China could be a demonstration of solidarity with Beijing or to double-check the solidity of Pyongyang's "insurance policy" with Beijing in case the Trump-Kim summit is canceled or postponed.