North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has held a surprise second summit in two months with China's president Xi Jinping, meeting his country's staunchest ally ahead of a planned forthcoming summit with U.S. president Donald Trump.
While Kim would be giving up the last of his remaining American prisoners, whom North Korea has often used in the past as bargaining chips with the United States, a release could also be aimed at pressuring Trump to make concessions of his own in his bid to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear arsenal, something it has not signalled a willingness to do.
Xinhua quoted Kim as saying North Korea would give up its nuclear weapons program if "relevant parties" drop hostile policies against Pyongyang.
Kim crossed the Demilitarised Zone into South Korea late last month to meet South Korean president Moon Jae-in for a summit that was considered a warm-up act for a meeting with US President Donald Trump some time in the next month.
"President Trump affirmed his commitment to ensuring that the trade and investment relationship between the United States and China is balanced and benefits American businesses and workers".
North Korean state media KCTV said Kim flew to Dalian on Monday on his private jet, where he was welcomed by high-profile Chinese officials including Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The official is believed to be greeting, or have greeted, the North Korean official.
Chinese media confirmed that Kim had visited and met with Xi, according to Reuters' Josh Smith.
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Pompeo's trip comes amid rumors of the release of three U.S. citizens detained in North Korea.
The pair reportedly met in Dalian, where Xi will attend a ceremony launching the country's first domestically-built aircraft carrier. Kim is expected to hold an unprecedented summit with Trump late this month or early next month. He also talked with Kim about the future of a denuclearized Korean peninsula.
The top leaders of China and North Korea have had a second meeting, close on the heels of their first summit from March 25-28.
Kim made a secret visit to China in an armoured train in March end in his first-ever foreign trip since taking over as North Korea's leader in December 2011.
Kim was quoted as saying Monday by China's official news agency Xinhua: "I hope to build mutual trust with the US through dialogue".
Posts about unusual traffic jams and security in Dalian popped up on Chinese social media.
Though the US and President Trump have had an undeniable influence on North Korea's sudden openness to worldwide diplomacy, the rhetoric over summit negotiations have been fluid at best.
But Mr. Moon, who as South Korea's leader has pushed for engagement with Pyongyang, urged Japan to consider normalizing ties with North Korea.