North Korea ambassador to Italy ‘disappears’, says South

North Korea ambassador to Italy ‘disappears’, says South

The North Korean leader "is to visit China on January 7-10... at the invitation of Xi Jinping", the official Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday.

The reclusive North Korean leader visited China thrice a year ago to meet with Xi before and after his first summit with Trump in Singapore in June last.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is visiting China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to state media in both countries.

A green train with a yellow stripe similar to the one Kim took to Beijing a year ago arrived at a station in the Chinese capital on Tuesday morning amid heightened security, though it was not immediately clear if Kim, his wife, and North Korean officials were aboard.

North Korea rarely reports such visits until they are over.

Unlike that occasion, when the North's state media waited until his return to announce his journey, the official KCNA news agency said on Tuesday that he was traveling on board his "private train".

Lu said China believes contact between the USA and North Korea is important.

In his annual New Year address last week, Kim Jong Un said that he was "ready to sit with the USA president again at any time in the future and will make efforts by all means that will produce a result that will be welcomed by the worldwide community".

In his first foreign trip since taking power, the North Korean leader met with Xi to consolidate their "traditional friendship" and discuss his nuclear weapons programme. "We're doing very well", he said.

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Hwang, a former senior member of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, was the chief architect of the North's governing "juche" ideology of self-reliance and had tutored former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the late father of current ruler Kim Jong Un.

North Korea insists that Washington first build trust by lifting the sanctions imposed on that country. Ties have warmed in the previous year as Pyongyang's relations with both Seoul and Washington have also improved.

The United States has so far levied tariffs of up to 25 percent on $250 billion of Chinese imports - or about half the goods it imports from China each year - in response to Beijing's alleged intellectual property and technology theft, in addition to other trade complaints.

Possibly fearing the economic effect of crushing outside sanctions imposed because of his weapons' tests, Kim abruptly turned to diplomacy with Seoul and Washington past year.

US President Donald Trump, right, meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island in Singapore, June 12, 2018.

Mr Trump likes to think that all it takes to make a breakthrough on North Korea is another one-on-one meeting with Kim.

These include more Chinese purchases of United States goods and services to reduce a yawning trade gap, increased access to China's markets, stronger protection of intellectual property and a reduction in Beijing's subsidies.

"It's an obligation, not a choice, to defect to South Korea for North Korean diplomats like us as well as members of the Korean people", Thae said in a letter released on his website, which he claimed Jo often visited.

"Their behavior has demonstrated that as well and we appreciate that".

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