North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s first foreign trip to Beijing since coming to power in 2011 has ended, and the distinctive green locomotive that reportedly ferried Kim has departed the Beijing Railway Station…
A little over two hours after the armored express was reported to have pulled out, it was business as usual, according to South China Morning Post.
Reuters, citing reports from South Korean media, also reported that Kim had in fact been part of the delegation of North Koreans that traveled to Beijing for a whirlwind series of meetings ahead of a tentatively planned summit between President Trump and the North Korean leader in May.
South Korea’s left-leaning press Hankyoreh also reported Kim had traveled to Beijing for meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday afternoon before leaving for a “third location” on Tuesday. It did not cite specific sources. The third location could be in China, but other media reports said the train was on its way to Pyongyang.
Two sources, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, confirmed that the mystery guest was Kim.
“It wasn’t his sister, it was Kim himself,” one said.
The Chinese foreign ministry has yet to confirm the visit by Kim or any North Korean delegation, which is standard practice.
The agenda of Kim’s visit – his first foreign excursion since coming to power in 2011 – is still unknown.
However, it’s notable that the meeting took place against a backdrop of easing tensions on the Korean peninsula, after officials from the North and South agreed to hold talks, and US President Donald Trump gave the green light for direct negotiations with the head of the restive state.
Beijing remains a key economic backer of the North Korean regime, even though Kim was reportedly frustrated at China’s decision to back UN Security Council sanctions against its restive neighbor.
The return to normal security levels on Tuesday was in marked contrast to the scenes in Beijing on Monday, when motorcades and roadblocks were seen across the city. Security has also been intensified on the China-North Korea border.
The first hint that the mystery guest was Kim was the appearance of the green train of the type favoured by North Korea’s senior leadership, which was seen travelling from the border city of Dandong to Beijing.
The roads around the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, where foreign dignitaries usually stay, were cordoned off on Monday and local people were told to avoid the area.
Reporters were held back behind a cordon a couple of hundred metres away, as a convoy of vehicles accompanied by police motorbikes left the compound about 9.30am on Tuesday and returned about two hours later.
Rumor circling in Beijing that Kim Jong Un is in town to smooth relations with Xi Jinping before summit with Trump. pic.twitter.com/Yrii9CbOYr
— Wei Du 杜唯 (@WeiDuCNA) March 26, 2018
Later, the motorcade was spotted passing by Tiananmen Square, apparently en route to the railway station.
The North Korean delegation arrived on Sunday, Reuters reported.
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