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Xi Fetes Kim Jong-un with Lavish Birthday Banquet

Xi Fetes Kim Jong-un with Lavish Birthday Banquet

The motorcade of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un headed out Wednesday morning to an unannounced destination on the second full day of a visit to China that has been shrouded in secrecy but is seen as part of preparations for a possible second summit with President Donald Trump.

Kim couldn't be seen, but was presumed to be on board the long train as it crossed on elevated tracks over a busy Beijing street and headed toward eastern China and the border with North Korea.

Kim chose China for his maiden official trip overseas past year before holding meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves from his train before it departs from Pyongyang to make the trip to Beijing, China, Jan. 7, 2019.

In the morning, Kim visited Tong Ren Tang, located in an economic-technological development zone in Beijing, which is the largest producer of traditional Chinese medicine.

A vehicle carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-un heads to the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Tuesday.

Kim Jong Un arrived on January 8 on an unannounced visit to Beijing for talks with President Xi Jinping, as preparations ramp up for an expected second summit with Donald Trump.

"On Secretary Pompeo's visit to North Korea, we don't have any travel to announce at all", US State Department spokesperson Katina Adams said in response to Radio Free Asia's request for comment Tuesday.

Tuesday was also Kim's birthday.

Yonhap said Kim met with President Xi Jinping for about an hour on Tuesday and later attended a dinner at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing hosted by Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan.

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China's official Xinhua news agency confirmed that Kim was visiting from Monday to Thursday at Xi's invitation.

Relations between China and North Korea had deteriorated in recent years over Pyongyang's nuclear activities, but Kim has made sure to keep Xi informed about his dealings with the US and South Korea as ties appear to have warmed.

"Kim needs the support of Xi so as to ask the United States to make substantial steps, such as providing assistance to North Korea and normalising relations with North Korea", Hua said.

Kim and President Trump signed a vague agreement during their historic summit in Singapore last June that calls on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.

China and Russian Federation, who both wield vetoes on the United Nations Security Council, have called for easing sanctions to reward Kim's move past year to halt weapons tests and dismantle some testing facilities.

Officially, at least, China says it considers the tariff battle and North Korea's weapons programs to be entirely separate.

In a New Year speech, Mr Kim focused on North Korea's moribund economy, saying that improving people's lives was his top priority and tackling energy shortages was an urgent task.

The visit coincided with negotiations between U.S. and Chinese officials in Beijing to resolve a bruising trade war between the world's two biggest economies. "The weight of North Korea is limited and can not play a decisive role", he said.

Still, China has denied any interest in using North Korea as a bargaining chip and doing so risked undermining a source of stability in its strained relations with the U.S.