North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un made a surprise secret visit to Beijing, China, on Monday, according to three anonymous sources who spoke to Bloomberg.
It was not known how long Kim would be in China or what the nature of his visit might be, nor who he might meet with. But local reports speculated Monday that a “high-ranking North Korean official” was near the Chinese capital, Bloomberg pointed out – adding that Kyodo News out of Japan said a “special train may have carried Kim through the northeastern border city of Dandong.”
If confirmed, the meeting with China would be Kim’s first meeting outside North Korea since he assumed power in 2011.
JUST IN: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made a surprise visit to China, sources say https://t.co/6fEa9Kw6sF pic.twitter.com/ZfYCg9EzJH
— Bloomberg (@business) March 26, 2018
The North Korea-China meeting comes ahead of a meeting with South Korea next month slated to be held in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea. That meeting is said to prepare for the three-nation meeting with the United States sometime before May, with the U.S., North and South Korea.
“If this meeting is confirmed, it may actually be more productive than a photo op between [Donald] Trump and Kim in a few weeks. North Korea is often perceived as an ungrateful junior brother, but recent tensions and increased nuclear and missile capabilities mean China’s taking this seriously and doesn’t want to be left out of the process,” according to Melissa Hanham, a researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Bloomberg reported.
The White House confirmed earlier this month that President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would meet “sometime” before May, on the invitation of Kim himself.
The state-run Korean Central News Agency issued commentary last week that finally hinted at confirmation for the upcoming meeting between North Korea, the U.S. and South Korea.
A possible meeting between the nations was originally the product of South Korea’s efforts in February during the Winter Olympics.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in first invited North Korea to a summit planned for next month in the Demilitarized Zone that separates the two nations on the Korean Peninsula.
Kim then invited President Trump, through a South Korean envoy, to a future meeting.
While many U.S. officials are skeptical about North Korea following through with any formal meeting, supporters of diplomacy say that even the prospect of talks is an encouraging change.
For months, North Korea continued to defy international officials’ pleas to cease countless nuclear missile and bomb tests, even going so far as to threaten the U.S. territory of Guam after fierce words from Trump demanding a halt to their increased military activity.
South Korea has stated that denuclearization could be a topic of discussion during the formal meeting of the nations. But while North Korea seems to have at least paused its nuclear activity for the time being, the rogue nation has not confirmed any sort of agenda for the meeting at this point, and giving up their prized nuclear weapons indefinitely be an unexpected result.