North Korea's President Kim Jong Un made an unannounced visit to China, meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing weeks before American and South Korean leaders are supposed to hold summit meetings, Chinese and North Korean state media reported Wednesday.
The visit is the first the North Korean leader has taken since he rose to power in 2011, and is also his first meeting with another head of state.
The secret visit was only confirmed after Mr. Kim left Beijing on the same armored train that sparked buzz when it arrived in the Chinese capital on Monday.
According to North Korea's state-run Korean Central Television, Mr. Kim made the trip at the invitation of the Chinese president. He was accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol-ju, as well as by top advisers.
U.S. President Donald Trump has been briefed on the visit, the White House said in a statement. The briefing included a personal message from President Xi Jinping to Trump. "The United States remains in close contact with our allies South Korea and Japan. We see this development as further evidence that our campaign of maximum pressure is creating the appropriate atmosphere for dialogue with North Korea," the statement said.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said that Mr. Kim's visit was proof that the American "campaign of maximum pressure is creating the appropriate atmosphere for talks with North Korea."
According to Chinese news agency Xinhua, Mr. Xi said regarding the meeting that "This year there have been promising changes in the situation on the Korean Peninsula, and we express our appreciation for the major efforts that North Korea has made in this regard.”
- Trump to meet North Korea's Kim Jong Un after promise to give up nukes: 'Meeting being planned!'
- Before Trump met Kim: Six other American leaders who visited North Korea
- Trump's abrupt new romance with Kim leaves Netanyahu hurting, and stranded
“If South Korea and the United States respond with good will to our efforts and create an atmosphere of peace and stability, and take phased, synchronized measures to achieve peace, the issue of the denuclearization of the peninsula can reach resolution,” Mr. Kim reportedly said of his visit.
The Chinese news agency also noted that at a banquet this week, Mr. Kim praised North Korea’s friendship with China, saying he wanted to “continue the traditional” ties, Xinhua said.