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#DailyBreaking: Kim, Xi portray strong ties after North Korean leader’s visit

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Kim Jong Un’s visit shows that China is not marginalized, but playing a leading role. This saves China a lot of face,” said Pang Zhongying, a North Korea expert at Renmin University in Beijing. Official reports from both countries on Wednesday depicted in effusive terms warm ties between the two leaders in an effort to downplay recent tensions over Kim’s development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

Kim made the unofficial visit to China at Xi’s invitation, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said, in his first trip to a foreign country since he took power in 2011. Xinhua said the trip ran from Sunday to Wednesday but appeared to include travel time from Pyongyang on the special armored train that Kim traveled in, which secretly arrived in Beijing on Monday and left Tuesday afternoon.
Rumors of the presence of Kim began circulating on Monday night, with the spotting of Kim’s special train, Chinese security teams and official delegations at the border city of Dandong and various points in Beijing.
Although China sought to keep Kim’s visit secret, and Wednesday described it as “unofficial,” it accorded him full honors due to a head of state, including a formal welcoming ceremony and troop review at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing.
Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan also hosted a banquet for Kim and his wife Ri Sol Ju, Xinhua said. They also watched an art performance together, the news agency said. “We speak highly of this visit,” Xi told Kim, according to Xinhua.
For China, the visit also projects to the Chinese public that Xi is firmly in charge of steering Beijing’s relations with North Korea in a way that favors China’s interests. “Here is Xi Jinping saying, ‘Don’t worry, everything is going to be great,'” Glaser said.
Analysts say Kim would have felt a need to consult with his country’s traditional ally ahead of summits with Moon and Trump. His famously reclusive father, Kim Jong Il, made his first visit to China as North Korean leader in May 2000, reportedly to consult with Chinese leadership ahead of Kim’s summit with the former South Korean leader Kim Dae-jung.
China would also not want Kim’s first foreign meeting to be with someone other than Xi. “This is China asserting its regional hegemony and influence, saying: ‘Hey, you talk to me first,'” said Michael Kovrig, senior advisor for northeast Asia at the International Crisis Group.
In footage aired by China’s state broadcaster China Central Television, Kim appeared reserved and collected as he sat at a long table across from Xi. Kim wore horn-rimmed glasses and was shown jotting down notes and speaking in a calm manner. In contrast, while meeting with South Korean envoys earlier this month, Kim was shown by his state media frequently smiling, bursting into laughter, proposing toasts and waving at departing limousines.
Kim was described by Xinhua as saying that his country wants “reconciliation and cooperation” with South Korea, with which it is technically still at war. He also said North Korea is willing to hold a summit with the United States, according to Xinhua. 

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