North Korea's Kim arrives in Beijing for meeting with Chinese president

Thae Yong-ho who fled his post as North Korea's deputy ambassador to Britain in August 2016

Kim's trip comes after USA and North Korean officials are believed to have met in Vietnam to discuss the location of a second summit between Kim and President Donald Trump.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has traveled to China at the request of Chinese president Xi Jinping, state media of both countries announced.

The visit, during which he is being accompanied by several leading North Korean officials, is his fourth to China in less than a year.

While China and Russian Federation have said the United Nations should consider relaxing sanctions on North Korea, Trump insisted Sunday that they would remain "in full force and effect" until the U.S. sees "very positive" results in the nuclear issue.

Dozens of security vehicles and officials blocked the roads around the train station in Dandong before the train passed, leading to speculation Kim was on board.

Kim's four-day visit comes after he expressed frustration in his annual New Year's address over the lack of progress in negotiations with Washington since his unprecedented summit with Trump in Singapore seven months ago.

China remains North Korea's closest ally, extending a cross-border economic lifeline to the cash-strapped and heavily sanctioned state, and China has called for economic sanctions on North Korea to be eased.

In a New Year's speech, Kim warned Washington the country might be forced to take an alternative path if the U.S.

Tuesday also happens to be the reclusive North Korean leader's birthday.

A separate geopolitical issue angered China on Monday when a US Navy guided-missile destroyer sailed near disputed islands in the South China Sea a vast expanse claimed by Beijing.

Kim's father and predecessor Kim Jong Il, who is said to have had a fear of flying, stuck to the rails for his own foreign travels, using high-security trains for his seven visits to China and three to Russian Federation over his 1994-2011 term.

Washington and Pyongyang seemed close to war at points during 2017, as the North staged a series of increasingly powerful weapons tests that got it tantalisingly close to its nuclear goal of one day targeting with pinpoint accuracy anywhere on the United States mainland.

China will "definitely" use North Korea as a bargaining chip to gain concessions from the United States over trade issues, the source said, adding the Trump administration may be forced to review its negotiating policy to "knock down" Beijing.

The brief report by Xinhua gave no details of who Kim will meet in China.

A sedan which is believed to carry North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leaves a train station with a convoy in Beijing, China, Tuesday.

Thae Yong-ho, who was the deputy ambassador in London and the most recent senior diplomat to defect, wrote an open letter to Jo Song-gil, 44, until recently North Korea's acting ambassador to Italy, who fled the Rome embassy with his wife in early November without notice.

Possibly fearing the economic effect of crushing outside sanctions imposed over his weapons tests, Kim abruptly turned to diplomacy with Seoul and Washington a year ago.

"Their behaviour has demonstrated that as well and we appreciate that", Pompeo said.

Denuclearization talks have sputtered since Trump and Kim held an unprecedented June meeting in Singapore, with Washington and Pyongyang each calling on the other to take action.

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