Kim Jong Un reportedly arrives unannounced in China in first international trip as North Korean leader
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un apparently made an unannounced visit to China on Monday, marking his first international trip since taking power in 2011. Bloomberg confirmed Kim's arrival in Beijing based on information from "three people with knowledge of the visit," though Kim has not yet been sighted in the city. The reason for his potential trip is unknown.
Kim reportedly arrived via high-security train and was accompanied by a police motorcade in Beijing, per Business Insider. Local news reported that the mysterious train disrupted traffic as it traveled through northeastern China, sparking speculation that Kim was on his way to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Bloomberg notes that China and North Korea shared strong ties in the past, but the relationship became strained when China joined the United Nations in levying sanctions on Pyongyang. Kim is already slated to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and President Trump in the coming months to discuss giving up his nuclear weapons program in exchange for lessened sanctions against the troubled country.
"If this meeting is confirmed, it may actually be more productive than a photo op between Trump and Kim in a few weeks," Melissa Hanham, a researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, told Bloomberg. "Recent tensions and increased nuclear and missile capabilities mean China's taking this seriously and doesn't want to be left out of the process." Read more at Bloomberg.