Trump summit with Kim Jong-un 'IMMINENT'

A vehicle that is part of a motorcade believed to be carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un makes its way through central Beijing

Chinese President Xi Jinping offered North Korean leader Kim Jong Un firm backing in deadlocked nuclear talks with the United States and reasserted Beijing's key role in the wider process, according to the two allies' state media Thursday.

According to the official readout by China's Xinhua News Agency of Kim and Xi's meeting this week in Beijing, Xi "supported [North Korea] and the United States holding summits and achieving results".

Abe has previously said he wants a new start for Japan-North Korea ties, and has welcomed the talks between Trump and Kim as a step toward the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. But others say Moon simply made a symbolic, conciliatory gesture toward North Korea.

Singapore, which hosted the first Trump-Kim summit last June, and Vietnam are within flying distance of the North Korean leader's plane, the Chammae-1, which is capable of flying a distance of 7,000km.

Before Kim's first visit to China last March, the relationship between Kim and Xi was anything but warm - they kept each other at arm's length despite years of propaganda claiming the two countries were as close as "lips and teeth".

Tuesday was Mr. Kim's birthday.

Trump, in turn, has sometimes blamed China for impeding denuclearization talks with North Korea.

Kim Jong-un visits a Tong Ren Tang pharmaceutical plant in Yizhuang, Beijing on Wednesday.

The fact that Kim's visit came at the same time USA negotiators were in China to discuss an end to the trade war is also unlikely to be a coincidence, said Sangsoo Lee, head of the Stockholm-based Korea Center at the Institute for Security and Development Policy, adding that there could "political intention" behind it.

Details of his visit weren't released, but Yonhap said Kim met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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Mr Moon said North Korea should take more concrete steps, such as abandoning its intercontinental and intermediate-range ballistic missiles and dismantling weapons production lines and other nuclear complexes, to secure United States concessions such as sanctions relief.

The unannounced trip was largely shrouded in secrecy.

Beijing stands ready to "play a positive and constructive role in maintaining peace and stability and realising denuclearisation on the peninsula and lasting peace and stability in the region", it cited him as saying.

Kim and Xi agreed to jointly study and co-ordinate "the management of the situation of the Korean peninsula and the denuclearisation negotiations in particular", the North's official KCNA news agency reported.

Xi was quoted as saying that China supports the U.S.

But Hua said Kim's visit would have a "limited" effect on the trade negotiations. Experts agree that while neither the U.S. nor China is "winning" in the trade war, China may be at a disadvantage.

The state-run Global Times speculates that Kim's visit likely means that he is considering promoting a traditional medicine industry in his own country as a means of economic development.

The South Korean government believes a second North Korea-U.S. summit will happen at some point in the near future.

The site that Kim and Trump will pick for the next meeting has been attracting keen attention, especially after President Moon Jae-in said Thursday the summit will take place soon and Trump said that the U.S. is "negotiating a location" on Sunday.

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