Vietnam says it wants to host US-NK summit

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Kim's fourth visit to China at the invitation of President Xi Jinping came with USA and Chinese senior trade officials holding a meeting in Beijing, where Washington may have put strong pressure on the Asian power to stem its alleged unfair business practices.

The North Korean leader is accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju, as well as senior officials including negotiator Kim Yong Chol and Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.

Lu said Kim's visit is a "coincidence" and nothing to do with the China-US trade talks.

Kim's first foray outside of North Korea as leader was for a summit with Xi last March.

On the other hand, Bloomberg suggested Kim might be "building closer ties with China" after a few years of tension because he wants an alternative to further denuclearization talks with the United States.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is making a four-day trip to China, the North's state media reported Tuesday, in what's likely an effort by Kim to co-ordinate with his only major ally ahead of a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump that could happen early this year. In 2018, Kim met with Xi three times-the same number of times as South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

"Kim is eager to remind the Trump administration that he does have diplomatic and economic options besides what Washington and Seoul can offer", Harry J. Kazianis, Director of Defence Studies at the USA -based Centre for the National Interest, said in an e-mailed statement.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked during a daily briefing whether there was a connection between Kim's visit and the possibility of another meeting between Kim and Trump, said China believed contact between the United States and North Korea was important.

His fourth visit to China comes a week after Kim warned in a New Year's speech that Pyongyang may change its approach to nuclear talks if Washington persists with sanctions.

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Kim's trip comes as the US and North Korea look to settle the North's decades-long pursuit of a nuclear arsenal. Usually coverage only starts after the leader returns safely to North Korea.

It is hoped that the US and South Korea can accurately understand the constructive significance of amicable China-North Korea ties to push ahead with denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

President Trump stated on Sunday that the United States is "negotiating a location" for his second summit with Kim.

Unlike that occasion, when the North's state media waited until his return to announce his journey, the official KCNA news agency said on Tuesday that he was traveling on board his "private train".

By flaunting close relations with Kim, Xi appears to be attempting to make US President Donald Trump believe China's cooperation is indispensable to attain Washington's goal of "complete" denuclearization of North Korea, analysts say.

Since the Singapore summit, there is growing scepticism in the U.S. over Kim delivering on his promise to do away with the nuclear programme despite Washington's assurance over North Korea's security. "The US is very clear about China's stance".

The Global Times concluded that Beijing would like to see "warming ties between Washington and Pyongyang with an agreement on a road map for denuclearization", but then shrugged and said it was entirely up to Washington to forge such an agreement by convincing Pyongyang to trust the Americans, and then shrugged again and admitted the Trump administration has exceeded all expectations by bringing an end to "nuclear tests, missile tests, and extreme threats" on the Korean Peninsula.

In his New Year's address, Kim said he is ready to meet with Trump "anytime".

But despite a cooling of relations a year ago with China over the imposition of sanctions, China has and remains its most important economic and diplomatic ally. "China has actually been a good partner in our efforts to reduce the risk to the world from North Korea's nuclear capability; I expect they will continue to do so".