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North Korea’s Kim ends Beijing visit as Trump summit looms

Beijing: Kim Jong Un’s train left Beijing on Wednesday after the North Korean leader visited his key ally on a trip seen as a strategy session ahead of his expected summit with Donald Trump.
Kim arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for his fourth visit to Pyongyang’s sole major diplomatic friend, reportedly visiting a factory and meeting President Xi Jinping.
The meeting focused on Kim’s expected meeting with Trump, according to Yonhap. In a New Year speech, Kim warned that Pyongyang may change its approach to nuclear talks if Washington persists with sanctions. Relations between China and North Korea had deteriorated in recent years over Pyongyang’s nuclear activities, but Kim has made sure to keep Xi informed about his dealings with the United States and South Korea as ties appear to have warmed.
Kim chose China for his maiden official trip abroad last year before holding meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump.
Trump said on Sunday that the United States and North Korea are negotiating the location of their next summit.
Discussions between the US and North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal have stalled since Kim and Trump’s high-profile summit in Singapore in June where they issued a vaguely worded declaration about denuclearisation.
The United States insists that United Nations sanctions must remain in place until North Korea gives up its weapons, while Pyongyang wants them immediately eased.
China also wants the sanctions to be relaxed. But Chinese officials also likely want to impress on Kim — who has so far pursued only limited reforms to his statist economy — the benefits the giant Communist country has enjoyed in its transformation from impoverished nation to economic powerhouse.
In the New Year speech, Kim focused on North Korea’s moribund economy, saying that improving people’s lives was his top priority and tackling energy shortages was an urgent task. (AFP)

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