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Kim meets Xi

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday at the start of a two-day visit at which he's expected to discuss his next steps after last week's nuclear summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Kim's visit to Beijing is his third since March, highlighting China's crucial role in efforts by the U.S. and others to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear program. The U.S. has long looked to China to use its influence with North Korea to bring it to negotiations, but the visit comes as ties between Beijing and Washington are being tested by a major trade dispute.

State broadcaster CCTV showed Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, being welcomed by Xi with full military honours at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of the legislature in the heart of Beijing.

In their ensuing talks, Xi affirmed the outcome of the Kim-Trump summit in Singapore.

Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, then hosted Kim and Ri at a welcoming banquet, CCTV reported.

China's official Xinhua News Agency announced the North Korean leader's visit shortly after he apparently landed Tuesday morning, dispensing with the secrecy shrouding previous trips to China by Kim and his father and predecessor, Kim Jong Il.

On the younger Kim's first visit to China as leader, he took an armoured train as his father had. His first two trips were not announced until after he had safely returned to North Korea.

Chinese President Xi Jinping "is exerting a lot of influence from behind the scenes," said Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"I expect they will talk about the path going forward and where priorities should lie," Glaser said. Those priorities, from China's perspective, would be to ensure that Beijing is included in any peace treaty talks and in creating an environment on the Korean Peninsula that will make it unnecessary for U.S. troops to remain.

Security was tight Tuesday morning at Beijing airport, where paramilitary police prevented journalists from taking photos.

A motorcade including sedans, minibuses, motorcycles and a stretch limo with a golden emblem similar to one Kim used previously was seen leaving the airport and later entering the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, where senior Chinese officials meet with visiting leaders.

A similar convoy of vehicles was seen heading in the direction of the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing on Tuesday afternoon.

Kim was diplomatically isolated for years before making his first foreign trip as leader in March to meet with Xi in Beijing. This is his third visit to China, North Korea's main ally and key source of trade and economic assistance.

Following his summit with Trump in Singapore, Kim was expected to meet with Chinese leaders to discuss progress in halting his country's missile and nuclear weapons programs in exchange for economic incentives. Kim is likely hoping to get China's support for relief from punishing U.N. sanctions.

China's foreign ministry refused to provide details on Kim's visit other than to say that Beijing hopes it will help deepen relations between the countries.



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