Have been in indirect talks with Kim Jong-un says Trump

Thae Yong-ho who fled his post as North Korea's deputy ambassador to Britain in August 2016

Thae Yong-ho who fled his post as North Korea's deputy ambassador to Britain in August 2016

Coal has always been a major resource for North Korea, and Kim's call for self sufficiency in the face of worldwide pressure is a recurring theme.

Thus, Kim's threat may not be a hint at more nuclear tests, "but rather as a message to Donald Trump: You are not our only option for security and economic development".

Kim is widely expected to discuss with Xi his possible second summit with Trump.

But the president said sanctions against North Korea will remain in effect "until we have some very positive proof" that they have abandoned their nuclear ambitions. In his words, "You would right now be in a nice, big fat war in Asia with North Korea if I wasn't elected president". South Korea has accused the North of killing or attempting to assassinate past defectors.

Mr Kim, unusually, did not meet Mr Xi for the first six years of his leadership of North Korea. "Instead of finding another route to sell coal, they will continue to use it domestically".

North Korea has formal diplomatic ties with 26 European nations, as well as Britain and Germany, since 2013, Seoul's Unification Ministry says. In that declaration, the two Korean leaders also committed to actively cooperate to establish a permanent and solid peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.

It said Kim is visiting China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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At some recently constructed high-rise apartment buildings, for example, potential residents fear facing dozens of flights of stairs during power outages.

Trump earlier said that the USA and North Korea are in talks over where to hold their second summit, adding that the decision on the venue will be announced in the "not-too-distant future".

North Korea generates almost 50 percent of its electricity from seven coal power plants and one oil-fired plant, and the rest from hydroelectric facilities.

In 2015, a counsellor in charge of science affairs at the North's embassy in Germany defected with his wife to an unidentified country, while a secretary-level trade official stationed in Bulgaria and his wife also fled, Thae told South Korean cable news Channel A in an interview this week.

The disappearance of Jo Song-gil comes after a year that saw a dramatic turnaround in relations between North and South Korea, with three meetings held between the countries' leaders.

North Korea's coal production rose from 2013 to 2016, but fell 30 percent to 21.66 million tonnes in 2017 from 2016, according to South Korean government data.

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