May 8 (UPI) — Kim Jong Un met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the second time in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian, a surprise move that comes ahead of a planned summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump.
The North Korean leader arrived in China by a special plane and his presence led to heightened security at the airport in Dalian beginning Monday, according to Kyodo News.
China’s state-owned news agency Xinhua confirmed Tuesday Kim made a two-day visit.
The news agency released photos of the two leaders chatting over tea and taking a stroll by the beach — Dalian is a port city.
The state-sanctioned report from China was published after the unofficial summit, but according to South Korean Presidential Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyom, the Chinese government informed Seoul in advance of the meeting, according to South Korean paper Aju News.
North Korea’s television network KCTV reported Tuesday Kim did “reunite” with Xi.
“As a new prime era unfolds that will build a history of goodwill between the two nations, the two leaders held a deeply meaningful reunion and summit in China’s Liaoning Province, in Dalian,” North Korea’s broadcaster stated.
North Korea media said Pyongyang’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jong, and North Korean foreign ministry official Choi Sun Hee accompanied Kim.
Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, said Kim likely met with Xi to request China mediate between the United States and North Korea, should conflict arise during the upcoming summit with Trump, according to South Korean news service Seoul Pyongyang News.
Kim may also have requested Chinese assistance on defense issues that would follow after denuclearization, Cheong added.