Korea as bargaining chip for United States trade talks

North Korean envoy to Italy goes missing

United States and Chinese officials yesterday in Beijing held a second day of trade talks overshadowed by an unannounced visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

A train presumably carrying Kim was spotted late Monday night in the Chinese border city of Dandong, where security was suddenly tightened.

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

A three-car North Korean train pulled into Beijing Railway station Tuesday morning shortly after China's Xinhua News Agency confirmed Kim would be visiting the country January 7-10.

There is speculation that he is seeking advice from Xi as he prepares for further denuclearization talks with Trump.

The visit, confirmed by North Korean and Chinese state media, will likely lead to Kim's fourth summit with Xi in the past year and comes amid plans for a second summit with Trump aimed at denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. Moon has expressed hopes for another meeting with Kim soon, ideally held in Seoul to fulfill Kim's promise to pay a historic visit to the South Korean capital.

When asked if Kim's delegation might have contact with the US trade delegation in Beijing, Lu said the two groups were not on the same level.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked during a daily briefing whether there was a connection between the trade talks and the possibility of another meeting between Kim and Trump, said China believed contact between the United States and North Korea was important.

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.

Tahith Chong delighted to make Man United first-team debut
Cup holders Chelsea and record 13-time winners Arsenal were among the other Premier League teams to progress to the last 32. He stayed behind in Manchester for treatment and will join up with the group in Dubai later this week.

Culminating in late 2017, Pyongyang carried out six nuclear tests and launched rockets capable of reaching the entire U.S. mainland, but has now carried out no such tests for more than a year.

In an interview with CNBC on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised China's support for resolving the North Korean crisis and said he did not think the U.S. trade dispute with China would affect this.

Mr Trump has offered assurances that another summit will allow he and Mr Kim to make a grand deal to settle the nuclear standoff and change a relationship marked by decades of animosity and mistrust.

"Kim will take advantage of the trade and other disputes between the US and China, he is also going to take advantage of Trump's domestic troubles and squeeze compromise from Trump in the next meeting".

Since the Singapore summit, there is growing scepticism in the United States over Kim delivering on his promise to do away with the nuclear programme despite Washington's assurance over North Korea's security.

This is the first time the two sides have met face to face since President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to a tariff truce during a meeting in Argentina on December 1. But the current North Korean leader shows no sign of an aversion to taking to the air.

Washington is pressing North Korea to offer up a detailed accounting of its nuclear arsenal, while the North says it has already done enough and it's time for the U.S.to ease the harsh global sanctions that hold back the North Korean economy. When asked whether North Korean officials would meet with USA officials during their visit, he said the delegations were at different levels. However, Xi has called on the sides to "meet each other halfway", and China's foreign minister in September urged some form of sanctions relief in response to any positive outcomes from the first Kim-Trump summit.

The UN enforced multiple rounds of economic sanctions against Pyongyang past year as punishment for its nuclear development. "The US is very clear about China's stance".

"Trump wants to accomplish a great achievement during his first four-year term (through 2021). China has actually been a good partner in our efforts to reduce the risk to the world from North Korea's nuclear capability; I expect they will continue to do so".

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