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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.

Kim Jong Un arrived on January 8 on an unannounced visit to Beijing for talks with President Xi Jinping, as preparations ramp up for an expected second summit with Donald Trump.

China has played diplomatic wingman to North Korea, even loaning Kim an Air China jet to travel to his meeting with Trump in Singapore previous year.

The North Korean leader's motorcade was spotted entering the Beijing central railway station on Wednesday afternoon, and the train departed shortly after on a day-long ride back to the northeast border, according to AFP journalists.

Moon has actively pursued engagement with the North to bring it to the negotiating table, a stance that has at times seen Seoul and Washington take increasingly divergent approaches.

Some experts say the sanctions relief, if pursued before South Korea's ally Washington is ready, could weaken ties with the United States and complicate efforts to rid the North of its nuclear weapons.

Doing so, however, would not be possible without willingness from the United Nations or U.S.to lift sanctions related to the effort.

At Tuesday's daily Foreign Ministry briefing, spokesman Lu Kang said Beijing remains supportive of efforts to end tensions over USA demands for a halt to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

"He wants to have his cake and eat it too", argues James Kim.

South Korea is reportedly in favor of sanction exemptions for North Korea in order for the peninsula to restart joint economic projects. "We have maintained close communication and shared information", he added.

Kim's grandfather Kim Il Sung was also adept at playing off Communist rivals Beijing and Moscow against each other during the Cold War to extract concessions from both.

Those issues have not been resolved by a 1965 treaty that normalised relations, Moon said, and the two countries should try to find ways to heal the wounds of victims.

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Xi seeks an end to the ongoing trade dispute, which is hurting the Chinese economy.

"The Sino-US trade negotiations are a matter between China and the US", he said.

"If the Korean Peninsula declares itself to be a nuclear-free zone, China can make a nuclear security commitment to North Korea", he said.

If Trump believes Xi holds the key to Kim's cooperation, the Chinese president will have another card to play in trade talks.

Lu continued, "China supports the two sides in continuing with their dialogue and striving for positive outcomes".

Kim's China visit also is leading to anticipation that the stalled North-U.S. denuclearization negotiations may gain traction. The factory is run by Tong Ren Tang, the country's largest producer of traditional Oriental medicine.

Trump had yet to respond to Kim Jong-un's China trip but tweeted Tuesday: "Talks with China are going very well!"

Instead, it may be more fruitful to look at what Pyongyang has actually done so far in the wake of the Singapore summit.

"If Washington will not give him (Kim) economic concessions, China in a subtle way nearly certainly will. albeit with the expectation he does make progress and does not return to belligerence".

On the issue of differences in the stances of the United States and North Korea, Moon said he believes that both sides are fully aware of each other's views but that distrust built up over the years is holding back either side from taking the first step. They were suspended in the past decade along with other similar projects amid the standoff over North Korea's nuclear program.

Trump on Sunday said that a location for the second North-U.S. summit will be announced in the near future. He's had a summit with a U.S. leader, developed a nuclear programme and is now eyeing greater economic expansion through China. Trump complained after a similar China trip in May that Xi might have emboldened Kim to take a harder line before their own eventual meeting in Singapore.

In response to a question regarding Kim's idea of denuclearization, Moon stressed that the North Korean leader's view is no different from that of the global community.


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