Xi Fetes Kim Jong-un with Lavish Birthday Banquet

Xi Fetes Kim Jong-un with Lavish Birthday Banquet

Kim also said North Korea hopes its "legitimate concerns" would be given due respect, a reference to Pyongyang's desire for security guarantees and a possible peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.

Given that it takes more than 14 hours from Beijing to the border city of Dandong by train, Kim stayed less than two days in the capital city.

He also credited Chinese President Xi Jinping with helping reduce regional tensions, saying "the Korean Peninsula situation has been easing since past year, and China's important role in this process is obvious to all". Xi also reportedly accepted a previous invitation to visit the North Korean capital a year ago but has yet to go.

With another nuclear summit looming between Kim and US President Donald Trump, a meeting between President Xi Jinping and the North Korean leader was inevitable, according to analysts.

"The second North Korea-United States summit - to take place soon - and a reciprocal visit to Seoul by Chairman Kim Jong Un of North Korea will be other turning points that will firmly solidify peace on the Korean Peninsula", Moon said Thursday, at his annual press conference.

Xi is reported to have assured Kim of China's support and said he hopes the two sides "will meet each other halfway".

Kim visited a pharmaceutical plant that makes traditional Chinese medicine on Wednesday and met Xi again for lunch at a hotel before heading back to North Korea by train.

"(China) does not think their interests would be threatened by better inter-Korean relations, whereas the possibility of a North Korean alignment with the United States, even potentially, against China, I think it's Beijing's nightmare", Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told AFP.

China is the North Korea's sole major ally and key trade partner.

The unannounced trip has been largely shrouded in secrecy. "It is necessary first for North Korea to take more bold measures for substantive denuclearization in order to resolve the sanctions quickly".

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DPRK is the acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

His approval rating hit stratospheric levels during the first set of summits a year ago between himself and Kim, and later between the North Korean and United States leaders in Singapore.

"We always believe that, as key parties to the Korean Peninsula issue, it's important for the two sides to maintain contact and we always support their dialogue to achieve positive outcomes", Mr. Lu said.

"The Sino-US trade negotiations are a matter between China and the US". It comes after US and North Korean officials are thought to have met in Vietnam to discuss the site of the summit.

Pyongyang and Washington have been struggling to find a breakthrough despite a pledge by Mr Kim at his landmark summit with Mr Trump in Singapore in June to work towards denuclearisation.

Kim's visit coincided with negotiations between U.S. and Chinese officials in Beijing to resolve a bruising trade dispute between the world's two largest economies that has roiled financial markets. The exchange bolstered North Korea's improving relations with its larger and more powerful neighbor, which provides it with crucial trade and security support.

However, a meeting between Mr Pompeo and senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol has yet to be rescheduled after an abrupt cancellation in November.

"Kim is eager to remind the Trump administration that he does have diplomatic and economic options besides what Washington and Seoul can offer", Harry J Kazianis, Director of Defence Studies at the US-based Centre for the National Interest, said in an e-mailed statement.

Multiple diplomatic sources have said that the Vietnamese government has said it desires to host the second North-U.S. summit.

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