Seoul officials and Pyongyang-controlled media confirmed that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un returned home Tuesday after a highly speculative and shrouded two-day visit to Beijing and meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The visit - Kim’s first venture outside the reclusive state since succeeding to power in 2011 and also his first meeting with a foreign leader - comes as he is due to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and possibly U.S. President Donald Trump over the next two months.
He was accompanied by his wife Ri Sol-ju and several senior officials.
The rare and sudden visit, dealing upset to Seoul which had replaced Beijing in the traditional mediating role by arranging a historic summit with Washington, is believed to have aimed to raise Pyongyang’s leverage in future negotiations with South Korea, U.S. and China.
Following years of strained ties after Beijing under Washington’s pressure joined tougher sanctions against Pyongyang following a series of nuclear and missile provocations, Xi reportedly invited Kim first to seemingly send a message to Washington that traditional relations between the two socialist states remain intact.
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]