Kim Jong-un makes birthday visit to China

Wednesday, 09 Jan, 2019

The NIS reportedly said Jo had not made with South Korean agents, but Kim wouldn't say if the agency told lawmakers his current location or whether he intends to defect. "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 Defense Studies at US -based Center for the National Interest said in an e-mailed statement.

Writing on 38 North, a website devoted to analysis about North Korea, earlier this month, he said: "Kim's confidence stems from the expectation of growing and reliable support by China".

A motorcade was seen leaving a Beijing train station, with police blocking a street with metal gates hours after Kim's train crossed the border into northern China, according to AFP journalists.

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that Kim, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol-ju, would stay at the state guest house Diaoyutai and meet with Xi in the Great Hall of the People on Tuesday afternoon.

It said Kim is visiting China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

But relations went through a rough patch in recent years as China backed United Nations sanctions over the North's nuclear tests.

Washington is demanding Pyongyang gives up its nuclear arsenal before any relief from economic sanctions is granted, while the North is insisting on immediate concessions from the US. Ties have warmed in the previous year as Pyongyang's relations with both Seoul and Washington have also improved.

Kim and Trump - two leaders who both take a top-down approach to leadership - have much to discuss, given that the two forged apparently amicable relations in Singapore last June, and both Kim and Trump have publicly praised one another since.

US officials have met their North Korean counterparts in Hanoi for discussions to adjust scheduling for the talks, the newspaper said, citing high-level diplomatic sources in Seoul and Washington it did not identify.

Diplomatic progress between Mr Trump and Mr Kim has stalled since the Singapore summit.

His latest visit may also provide Xi with an opportunity to accentuate his country's leverage over North Korea as China and the United States try to head off a trade war.

China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has agreed to several rounds of punishing economic sanctions against the North.

Observers say the outcome of Xi- Kim meeting would be watched for its likely impact on the planned second summit meet between Kim and Trump.

Renmin University's Shi said there is no connection between the visit and the trade talks and that these two were unlikely to influence each other.

But Washington and Seoul could face complications in denuclearization talks with North Korea if they choose to accept Jo's defection. However, from the U.S. perspective, Vietnam could send meaningful messages to Kim. -China trade talks in Beijing that seek to end the trade dispute between the world's two largest economies ahead of a March deadline.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Monday on US television that "there's a very good chance that we'll get a reasonable settlement that China can live with, that we can live with and that addresses all the key issues".

"Their behaviour has demonstrated that as well and we appreciate that", Pompeo said. "I expect they will continue to do so".