Kim reaffirms commitment to denuclearisation in meeting with Xi

Xinhua News Agency in Beijing. Kim was making his first known trip to a foreign country since he took power in 2011

Throughout, he defied predictions of his demise, whether by coup or assassination, and imminent economic collapse or popular revolt.

In an early morning tweet Wednesday, the president said he received a message from China's president that the meeting with Kim "went very well" and that Kim "looks forward to his meeting with me".

But maybe China has been playing a long game from the beginning.

Kim Jong-un's father, Kim Jong-il, who famously hated flying and had a penchant for a playboy lifestyle, is said to have decked the train out for lavish parties, bouts of heavy drinking and karaoke on his many journeys by rail. The talks were the first between the two Koreas since the delegation returned from the North.

By contrast, Kim was a relative unknown, promoted swiftly to the rank of four star general and vice chairman of the party's Central Military Commission as his father's health waned.

After the 2000 trip to Beijing, Kim Jong Il went on many other trips overseas.

There may have been an attempt to control Kim in this way, but he responded with a series of major purges, firing dozens of senior officials and arresting and later executing Jang.

It is not known why Kim Jong Un chose to take the train to Beijing rather than fly there.

It's not known how often Kim Jong-un has used the train to travel inside North Korea.

Many analysts and former negotiators believe this still constitutes North Korea's stance and remain deeply skeptical Kim is willing to give up the weapons his family has been developing for decades.

Over the past year, it has applied global sanctions against its neighboring country with much greater rigidity.

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The peninsula appeared to be barreling toward conflict, especially after the election of Trump, who took a hard line on North Korea and promised "fire and fury" as Pyongyang's weapons testing threatened Guam, Hawaii and even the USA mainland. North Korea has repeatedly reneged on previous pledges after receiving the rewards, ditching promises to let global inspectors check its nuclear facilities and others.

If 2017 was the year of missile tests, this year has been all diplomacy.

April 1982: Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping visits North Korea to attend celebrations of Kim Il Sung's 70th birthday.

Yun Byung-se said Kim Jong-un's recent comments on his visit to China, including support for a denuclearised Korean peninsula, could be a tactic to buy his despotic regime more time ahead of his planned summits with his counterparts in Seoul and Washington in the coming weeks. North Korea's provocations also took a toll on relations with Beijing.

From a North Korean perspective, it may also have made sense to shore up their sometimes fractious relationship with Beijing ahead of any US meeting, Haenle added.

"When we talk about North Korea's nuclear weapons, we should cover all range of nuclear weapons".

If the North's talks with South Korea and the United States fall apart, Pyongyang could move to demonstrate its nuclear weapons and missile capabilities again.

November 1958: North Korea founder Kim Il Sung visits China, shortly after China withdraws troops from the Korean Peninsula.

So far, Kim's strategy appears to be paying off.

Some U.S. intelligence officials fear that the Chinese government is conducting sophisticated "kidnapping" programs in the United States in order to spirit their nationals back to the mainland, where they face arrest and imprisonment on political and corruption charges. "It can be phased but they have to show they have nothing to hide", Yun said.

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