North Korean leader Kim Jong Un began a two-day visit on Tuesday, Chinese state-run television said, exactly a week after Kim's landmark summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, as Beijing seeks a boosted role in talks with Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons.
With the leaders of Japan, China and South Korea having met for a summit in Tokyo just last month, it is unusual for a trilateral meeting at this level to be held again in the same year.
In Seoul on Monday, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-hwa said she believes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will "soon" meet with North Korean officials to take the next step in the denuclearization deal.
Kim Jong-un's latest trip to China has also sparked speculations that sanctions imposed by Beijing may be discussed. Previously China would only confirm Kim had visited after he had left the country.
"[Xi] has really closed up that border", the President said, in comments in which he thanked the Chinese President for his role in bringing Kim to the negotiating table.
Noh also downplayed concerns that improving relations between China and North Korea could result in loosened Chinese sanctions against North Korea, saying that Beijing has repeatedly stated its commitment to U.N. Security Council resolutions against the North. Neither China or North Korea have released details about what the trip is for or an itinerary.
The report suggests that during the meeting with Xi and Chinese officials, Kim will discuss the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, and potential negotiating strategies he might adopt in meeting with the U.S. moving forward. "This shows that China is moving toward a healthier and more normal direction in relations with North Korea", Cheng said. Previous visits by North Korean leaders have been shrouded in secrecy and confirmed only after their departure.
The North Korean leader is expected to brief China's leadership on his talks with Mr Trump.
Xi told Kim he hopes that North Korea and the USA can fully implement the deal, according to the AP.
North Korea has always reacted to the Ulchi exercises with belligerence and often its own demonstrations of military capability.
The visit came the same day that Seoul and the Pentagon announced they would halt their annual Freedom Guardian joint military drills, scheduled for August, while Seoul was undertaking two exercises aimed at countering a potential Japanese attack on its easternmost islets.
China may not have been at the table for the summit in Singapore but it retains strong influence behind the scenes, Wang said. Analysts said Beijing appeared to be trying to normalize such visits.
"We hope Chairman Kim Jong Un's visit will contribute to that".
Speaking at a news conference last Tuesday after his summit with Kim, Trump abruptly announced that he was suspending military exercises with the South, "unless and until we see the future negotiation is not going along like it should".