'Bold steps' needed on N Korea denuclearisation - Moon

Kim arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for his fourth visit to Pyongyang´s sole major diplomatic friend

Kim spoke with Xi for about an hour Tuesday night, discussing ways to strengthen their ties and lay out strategy for a potential summit between Kim and Trump on curbing Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, Yonhap reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the talks. Keeping in mind that China is North Korea's only solid, powerful ally and Kim relies on them for much of his sputtering economy, Xi Jinping has significant leverage over North Korea.

However, a meeting between Mr Pompeo and senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol has yet to be rescheduled after an abrupt cancellation in November.

At their first meeting in Singapore in June, Kim and Trump signed a vaguely worded document with Kim pledging to work towards the "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

Mr Kim told Mr Xi about the difficulties and concerns in improving North Korea-US relations and denuclearisation negotiations, KCNA said. Xi then threw a lavish banquet for Kim to celebrate his birthday, but state-run CCTV made no mention of Kim's visit.

"The path toward peace on the Korean Peninsula still continues to expand even at this moment, and it will speed up even more this year".

Officially, at least, China says it considers the tariff battle and North Korea's weapons programs to be entirely separate.

KCNA reported that Kim on Wednesday visited a pharmaceutical plant belonging to Beijing Tongrentang Co.

The fact that Kim's visit came at the same time United States negotiators were in China to discuss an end to the trade war is also unlikely to be a coincidence, said Sangsoo Lee, head of the Stockholm-based Korea Center at the Institute for Security and Development Policy, adding that there could "political intention" behind it.

"We welcome North Korea's intention to resume their operation without conditions or compensation", Moon said.

Progress has been slow ever since as the North wants sanctions relief, while the U.S. remains firm that sanctions will remain in place until the North completely gives up its nuclear weapons program.

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The schedule and route this time was similar to Kim's first trip to Beijing by train last March.

"I expect we'll hear about high-level talks between North Korea and the United States before long for their second summit", he added.

Conditions for resuming two key economic projects between North and South Korea - the Kaesong Industrial Complex, where Southern companies used to employ North Korean workers, and Southern tourism to Mount Kumgang in the North "have essentially been met already", he said.

A vehicle in the motorcade of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seen in Beijing on January 9, 2019.

Lu continued, "China supports the two sides in continuing with their dialogue and striving for positive outcomes".

Kim's train departed from a train station in Beijing at around 2 p.m. after Kim and Xi had lunch together, according to Yonhap News Agency.

China is the North's sole major ally, main diplomatic backer and a key trade partner, whose forces were instrumental in fighting for it during the 1950-53 Korean War.

"The Sino-US trade negotiations are a matter between China and the US", he said.

The site that Kim and Trump will pick for the next meeting has been attracting keen attention, especially after President Moon Jae-in said Thursday the summit will take place soon and Trump said that the United States is "negotiating a location" on Sunday.

Trump had yet to respond to Kim Jong-un's China trip but tweeted Tuesday: "Talks with China are going very well!"

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