Published: Wed, March 28, 2018
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Arrival of North Korean Train in Beijing Triggers Speculation

Arrival of North Korean Train in Beijing Triggers Speculation

South Korea said on Tuesday it was closely watching events that are unfolding rapidly in Beijing.

Journalists in Beijing have also reported seeing a military honor guard welcoming a convoy of vehicles arriving at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, where top North Korean officials have stayed during a visit to China.

"I am not aware of any information at present".

South Korean media reported that Kim had met with a number of Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping.

Because of North Korea's dependence on China, it makes sense that Pyongyang would send a high-level delegation to Beijing for consultations before any major approach to the West.

"The North Korea nuclear issue can not be solved by exclusively relying on negotiations between North Korea and the United States, because, essentially, the nuclear issue is a regional security issue, not an issue of the relationship between North Korea and the United States", said Zhang Liangui, a retired professor and Korea scholar at the Central Party School in Beijing. It was unclear where the convoy was headed.

A special train is seen at Beijing Railway Station in Beijing on March 27, 2018.

Raj Shah, a spokesman for the White House, said he could not confirm the reports of Kim visiting Beijing when asked about them Monday. "We don't know if they're necessarily true", he said. She visited South Korea for the Winter Olympics last month, paving the way for a summit between the two Koreas.

"But whether Workers' Party of Korea Chairman Kim Jong-un is visiting China has not been verified".

For Kim Jong Un's predecessors, trips were often secret until after they were over.

Advanced communications and flat screen TVs have been installed so the North Korean leader can give orders and receive news and briefings.

It follows Japanese media reports that a high-ranking Pyongyang official had apparently arrived in Beijing on Monday ahead of the summit with South Korea later in April.

Past visits by Kim Jong Il to China were surrounded in secrecy, with Beijing only confirming his presence after he had crossed the border by train back into North Korea.

China has not confirmed any visit by a North Korean but has not totally censored speculation. "Behind Kim's train is another carrying his bodyguards and other support personnel".

The rail journey between Dandong and Beijing covers more than 1,100 kilometres.

North Korea's state media, including the Rodong Sinmun newspaper and the Korean Central News Agency, have not published any reports on the move so far.

Paul Haenle, a former White House official on China affairs and now the director of the Carnegie-Tsingua Center, says North Korea is extremely keen to get relief from the crippling worldwide sanctions against it, and "China would be a key part of that effort". "Right now, the situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula is moving very quickly and it would be inadvisable to think with prejudice", the official added. The train looked similar to the one that Kim's father had used during his Beijing visit.

The relations between the two countries became frayed in 2017 after a spree of missile tests, which irked China's leaders and resulted in multiple rounds of United Nations sanctions targeting North Korea.

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