North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping had in-depth discussions on how to "jointly study and steer" the situation on the Korean peninsula and denuclearisation talks, North Korea's state media KCNA said on Thursday. The first two summits were not reported until after Kim left China, and the third was disclosed on the second day of his visit.
A Cheong Wa Dae spokesman declined to say whether Seoul was informed of Kim's visit by either North Korea or China.
The US is refraining from negative comments on Kim's trip because China has been tough on the enforcement of United Nations sanctions against North Korea and trade talks with Beijing are going smoothly, said Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy.
At their high-profile summit in Singapore previous year, Kim and Trump signed a vaguely-worded pledge on denuclearisation but progress between the two sides has since stalled amid disagreements over the interpretation of their agreement. It comes after USA and North Korean officials are thought to have met in Vietnam to discuss the site of the summit.
In his annual New Year's speech last week, Kim renewed his commitment to denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula but warned the United States of taking a "new path" if it doesn't ease sanctions.
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KCNA reported that Kim on Wednesday visited a pharmaceutical plant belonging to Beijing Tongrentang Co.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular news briefing Tuesday in Beijing that Kim's visit had no bearing on US trade talks.
South Korea's Yonhap News Agency said Mr. Kim visited a technology development zone and spent around 20-30 minutes touring a factory run by famed traditional Chinese medicine maker Tong Ren Tang. 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.
By hosting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a fourth time, China has signalled again that it will not be sidelined in the diplomatic dance between its Cold War-era ally and Washington.
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North Korea has carried out six nuclear blasts and launched missiles capable of reaching the whole of the United States, but has carried out no such tests for more than a year, and blew up the entrances to a nuclear testing ground it said it no longer needed.
While Kim was in China, Xi's government was in talks with a visiting USA delegation over a trade war that has been extracting a financial cost on the world's two biggest economies. -China negotiations were extended another day to Wednesday.
"If Washington will not give him (Kim) economic concessions, China in a subtle way nearly certainly will. albeit with the expectation he does make progress and does not return to belligerence".
Washington asserts Kim accepted the "final, fully verified denuclearization of North Korea", while Pyongyang says the deal implied a step-by-step approach where its actions were simultaneously met by USA responses.
While no details were released about an agenda in China, Kim has been seeking relief from sanctions, a peace declaration to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War and more investment.
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