North Korea's Kim visiting China for summit with Xi

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A "senior North Korean official" was travelling on the train, which passed through the city of Dandong on China's eastern border around 10.15pm local time, according to Yonhap News Agency.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has arrived in Beijing for an unannounced visit, at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Kim, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol-ju and senior officials including Kim Yong-chol - his right-hand man in diplomatic negotiations with the USA and South Korea, arrived in Beijing on his private train.

Washington is pressing the North to offer up a detailed accounting of its nuclear arsenal, while Pyongyang says it has already done enough and it is time for the USA to ease harsh worldwide sanctions that hold back the North Korean economy.

Meanwhile, North Korean state media aired footage of Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, boarding the train departing Pyongyang.

The trip began under the usual veil of secrecy and Kim has not been spotted in public since a motorcade believed to be carrying the North Korean entourage left a Beijing train station under heavy security early on Tuesday.

Kim's four-day visit comes after he expressed frustration in his annual New Year's address over the lack of progress in negotiations with Washington since his unprecedented summit with Trump in Singapore seven months ago.

Lu said Kim's visit is a "coincidence" and nothing to do with the China-US trade talks.

Kim's visit came only days after he warned of taking an alternative path if the United States does not ease sanctions and pressure on his isolated country. The North Korean leader departed from Pyongyang on Monday. "We're doing very well", he said.

While there have been tensions between Beijing and Pyongyang, the two Korean War allies retain close ties, with China being North Korea's most important ally as the two nations face off against the United States.

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Kim, accompanied by a high-level delegation, will stay in China until Thursday where he is planning to hold talks with Xi, both the Chinese and North Korean state media confirmed.

In his New Year's address on January 1, Kim also emphasized the importance of promoting multilateral talks on creating a "peace mechanism" in the region instead of an armistice agreement that halted the Korean War, in apparent consideration of China.

The news follows speculation earlier on Monday that Mr Kim was possibly on his way to China by train.

Kim's trip comes as the USA and North Korea look to settle the North's decades-long pursuit of a nuclear arsenal.

Possibly fearing the economic effect of crushing outside sanctions imposed because of his weapons' tests, Kim abruptly turned to diplomacy with Seoul and Washington a year ago.

His latest visit may also provide Xi with an opportunity to accentuate his country's leverage over North Korea as China and the United States try to head off a trade war.

Last year, Xi and Kim met three times in China by around the time of the first-ever US-North Korea summit on June 12 in Singapore.

"Xi also gains from a summit with Kim - and the timing could not be any better", said Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest, a U.S. think tank.

"Their behavior has demonstrated that as well and we appreciate that".

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