China-North Korea bonhomie on display: Xi Jinping accepts Kim Jong's invitation

The visit was Kim's first known journey abroad since he assumed power in 2011 and is believed by analysts to serve as preparation for upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States.

China-North Korea bonhomie on display: Xi Jinping accepts Kim Jong's invitation

SHANGHAI/SEOUL: After North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited China, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday accepted the former's invitation to visit North Korea. Following Kim's visit, Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with him in Beijing.

Under the new circumstances, Xi Jinping said that he is willing to keep frequent contacts with Kim Jong Un through various forms such as exchange of visits, and sending special envoys and letters to each other, China's state news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday.

North Korean is also willing to have the dialogue with the United States and hold a summit of the two countries, added Kim. The North Korean leader visited China for three days starting Sunday on an unofficial visit.

The visit was Kim's first known journey abroad since he assumed power in 2011 and is believed by analysts to serve as preparation for upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States.

Beijing has traditionally been the closest ally of secretive and isolated North Korea, but ties have been frayed by North Korea`s pursuit of nuclear weapons and China`s backing of tough U.N. sanctions in response.

Xinhua published a photograph of Kim and Xi shaking hands in front of the flags of the two nations.

Speculation about a possible visit by Kim to Beijing was rife earlier this week after a train similar to the one used by Kim's father was seen in the Chinese capital, along with heavy security and a large motorcade.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that Kim visited China from Sunday to Wednesday with his wife, Ri Sol Ju. It cited North Korea without elaborating. 

Xi had accepted an invitation from Kim to visit North Korea, Yonhap said.

Improving ties between North Korea and China would be a positive sign before planned summits involving the two Koreas and the United States, a senior South Korean official said on Tuesday.

Kim Jong Un's father, Kim Jong Il, met then-president Jiang Zemin in China in 2000 before a summit between the two Koreas in June that year. That visit was seen at the time as reaffirmation of close ties with Beijing.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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