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Kim Jong Un met China's President Xi. What does it mean for the Trump summit?

In this photo provided on March 28, 2018, by China's Xinhua News Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, from left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands in Beijing, China.Ju Peng / Xinhua via AP

Kim Jong Un’s long, slow train journey from Pyongyang to Beijing was an attempt for the dictator and his host to gain leverage ahead of the North Korean leader’s summit with President Donald Trump, according to experts.

Kim’s trip to meet with the country’s oldest and only real ally has been shrouded in mystery. Little is known about what was discussed between the two leaders other than an official statement published through China’s state-run media. Feverish speculation has spread among analysts in the region over what is likely to come out of it, and what it means for the proposed summit between Trump and Kim in May.

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“It seems China was not comfortable with the idea of Kim meeting with Moon (Jae-In, South Korea's President) and Trump before having ever met with Xi,” said Paul Haenle, a former China affairs director for both President George W. Bush and Barack Obama’s National Security Council and the current director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy on Beijing, in a statement.

From a North Korean perspective, it may also have made sense to shore up their sometimes fractious relationship with Beijing ahead of any U.S. meeting, Haenle added. “Kim may have felt he had secured some leverage against Xi having independently secured summits with Trump and Moon," he said.

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"He’ll now feel more confident knowing where things stand with Beijing heading into those same meetings.”

Kim's visit comes just weeks after China's rubber-stamp parliament voted to abolish term limits, effectively allowing President Xi Jinping to rule the superpower indefinitely. It also comes amid heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington over trade, with Trump announcing new tariffs on imported steel and aluminium from China earlier this month.

Cristina Varriale, a research analyst specializing in proliferation and nuclear policy at the London-based Royal United Services Institute told NBC News this week's visit could help ensure China plays a much more active role in any denuclearization agreement.

“With the recent engagement between North and South Korea and the South Koreans going to the U.S. it started to look very much like a tri-lateral initiative between those three countries," she said. "By pulling China back into it, North Korea are balancing it out again and having their patron back on their side as part of this process.”

After Kim’s meeting with Xi, President Trump tweeted that he was hopeful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula would finally take place, adding “there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity.”

Trump also noted that Xi had kept him abreast of his discussions with Kim.


My view: Good to know that North Korean leader Kim Jun-un is ready for denuclearization, it seems the economic sanctions is biting hard.

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