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North Korean leader was in delegation visiting Beijing

29 March 2018

Bloomberg, citing three unidentified sources, reported on Monday that Kim was in Beijing in what would be his first known trip outside North Korea since taking power in 2011. It will be the third meeting between the countries' leaders and the first in 10-and-a-half years.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping inspect honor guards, as he paid an unofficial visit to Beijing, China, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang March 28, 2018. South Korea's spy agency declined to confirm the report.

A train believed to be carrying a senior North Korean delegation left the Chinese capital yesterday following a dramatic whirlwind visit that some reports said included the country's leader, Kim Jong-un.

The details of Mr Kim Jong Un's visit, including its goal and itinerary, were not yet known, Bloomberg reported.

China has not confirmed any visit by a North Korean but has not totally censored speculation Kim Jong Un might be in town.

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Diplomatic sources in Beijing said a senior North Korean official was in town, but did not know exactly who.

Xi and Kim Jong Un had reasons to meet in advance of Kim's meetings with Moon and possibly Trump, the US official said.

"It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearisation on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late president Kim Il-sung and late general secretary Kim Jong-il", Kim said, referring to his grandfather and father, according to the statement by China's foreign ministry.

"Some renovations and preparations are being undertaken for the summit", which will be held at the Peace House in April, a spokesperson of the ministry told Efe news.

Beijing is secretive and isolated North Korea's main ally, as well as its biggest trading partner.

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Widely read Chinese state-run newspaper the Global Times said the Kim-Xi meeting proved naysayers wrong about Beijing-Pyongyang relations. Access to the Tiananmen Square has been restricted, which is common protocol when there is a state meeting with a foreign president in the Great Hall of the People.

State television showed pictures of the two men chatting and Kim's wife, Ri Sol Ju, getting a warm welcome from Xi's wife, Peng Liyuan.

Experts say Beijing and Pyongyang both wish to strengthen their ties before the North Korean leader begins negotiations with Seoul and Washington.

A senior US official who follows North Korea closely said the available evidence suggested that Kim had travelled to Beijing to meet Xi, but stressed that had not been confirmed.

A senior South Korean official told reporters Tuesday at the Presidential Office that Seoul is keeping close watch as a top-ranking North Korean official appears to be visiting China but have not confirmed who was on the train.

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A top Chinese diplomat, Politburo member Yang Jiechi, will brief South Korean President Moon Jae-in about the Beijing talks in Seoul on Thursday, the South Korean presidency said.

North Korean leader was in delegation visiting Beijing