Kim Jong Un heads home via train after two-day Beijing visit

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

A special train believed to be carrying Kim Jong Un departed Beijing Wednesday after a two-day visit by the North Korean leader to the Chinese capital.

The visit came as trade talks between the US and China were underway in the city, leaving some to speculate about the message Kim may be sending President Trump.

At the daily Foreign Ministry briefing Tuesday, spokesman Lu Kang gave no details about Kim's schedule or China's role as an intermediary between the US and North Korea.

Mr Kim arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for a fourth visit to his country's sole major diplomatic friend, a trip seen as a strategy session ahead of his possible second meeting with Mr Trump on Pyongyang's nuclear programme.

Mr Kim made what is believe to be his first official trip outside North Korea to China previous year, even before meeting South Korea's President Moon and Mr Trump. Beyond confirming his presence in Beijing, there has been no detail provided from either the North Korean or Chinese side on his schedule.

Each of the previous meetings between Kim and Xi have come shortly before or after summits the North Korean leader has held with either Trump or the South's President Moon Jae-in.

Following their historic meeting in Singapore last June, negotiations have somewhat stalled, as the White House demands that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program first, before the U.S. would lift any of its punitive measures on the country.

Details of his visit weren't released, but Yonhap said Kim met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. "If he wants to shift his focus to the development of the economy, he needs China's cooperation", said Mr Lu Chao, a North Korea expert at China's Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences.

Yonhap said Kim met with Xi for about an hour Tuesday and later attended a dinner at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing hosted by Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan. This time, Kim was accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol Ju, and North Korean Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol, who is in charge of nuclear talks with the United States.

In the morning, Kim visited Tong Ren Tang, located in an economic-technological development zone in Beijing, which is the largest producer of traditional Chinese medicine.

North Korea has carried out 6 nuclear blasts and launched missiles capable of reaching the whole of the United States, but has carried out no such tests for more than a year and blew up the entrances to a nuclear testing ground it said it no longer needed.

"The relations between China and the U.S. have changed from how it was when Kim and Xi met past year".

"The Korean peninsula situation has been easing since past year, and China's important role in this process is obvious to all ... the DPRK side highly and sincerely appreciates the Chinese efforts", Kim said.

Kim's visit also comes after he expressed frustration in his annual New Year's address over the lack of progress in negotiations with Washington since the Singapore summit with Trump in June, saying that if things don't improve - meaning that if sanctions relief and security guarantees aren't in the offing -Pyongyang might have to find "a new way" forward.

Trump said Sunday that the United States and North Korea are negotiating the location of their next summit.

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