Kim Jong-un spends his birthday with Xi Jinping in Beijing

Kim Jong-un spends his birthday with Xi Jinping in Beijing

Kim's fourth visit to China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping came with United States and Chinese senior trade officials holding a meeting in Beijing, where Washington may have put strong pressure on the Asian power to stem its alleged unfair business practices.

Rumors of another visit came late Monday night as a North Korean train passed into the Chinese city of Dandong under heavy security.

The North Korean leader is accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju, as well as senior officials including negotiator Kim Yong Chol and Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.

South Korean presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said Tuesday that Seoul hopes Kim's trip to China will act as a "stepping stone" for a second Trump-Kim summit.

While the general consensus is that Trump and Kim will meet in an Asian country considering the limits on how far Kim's plane can fly, Washington has eliminated Mongolia from its list of possible hosts, making Vietnam a likely candidate.

He said further information about Kim's activities, the outcome of his meetings and a possible visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to North Korea would be "released in due course".

Moon's office said Tuesday that it considered Kim's visit a "positive development of many situations".

"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 Defence Studies at the USA -based Centre for the National Interest, said in an e-mailed statement.

In an interview with CNBC on Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised China's support for resolving the North Korean crisis and said he did not think the US trade dispute with Beijing would affect this. Both visited China and South Korea six years after inheriting power, with the elder Kim creating what Sung-Yoon Lee, a Korea expert at The Fletcher School at Tufts University in the USA, characterized as " a dramatic mood swing in Northeast Asia" - a plan Kim Jong Un appears set on emulating.

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Instead, Mr Kim may be seeking to gauge China's attitude toward sanctions ahead of the talks, including what the North would have to concede in order to win Beijing's support at the UN. But he said Beijing remains supportive of efforts to end tensions over USA demands for a halt to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

Some observers believe that while it is tempting to interpret this "new way" as being a thinly veiled threat of more nuclear or missile tests, it could instead be an implicit warning that the North could further bolster its already improving ties with China if the US fails to ante up.

President Trump stated on Sunday that the United States is "negotiating a location" for his second summit with Kim.

Officials from US and China are meeting in Beijing this week to negotiate an end to the trade war that has led to hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs over the past year. However China's state-run Global Times newspaper appeared to reveal the birth year of the North Korean leader in a tweet.

The visit coincides with what South Korean officials say is Kim's 35th birthday on Tuesday.

"Supreme interests of the state", he added, quoting Kim's speech, "means fulfilling the great national task", the state mission of the North: "Unify Korea under Kim and his ruling Workers' Party of Korea".

Kim's latest visit coincided with the second day of the crucial trade talks between the United States and Chinese officials here. "The US is very clear about China's stance".

A spokesperson for the South Korean government expressed optimism that the diplomatic discussions between the two Koreas, North Korea and China, and North Korea and the United States might build on each other.

North Korea has held off on additional nuclear weapons and missile tests for more than a year, possibly in response to China's displeasure, while carrying out its new diplomatic offensive. "China's ability to use [North Korea] as leverage has diminished considerably since Trump opened his own channel to Kim". "China has actually been a good partner in our efforts to reduce the risk to the world from North Korea's nuclear capability".

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