Xi Fetes Kim Jong-un with Lavish Birthday Banquet

A vehicle in the motorcade of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Beijing China on Jan 9 2019

A vehicle in the motorcade of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Beijing China on Jan 9 2019

In this January 9, 2019, photo provided on January 10, 2019, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second left, talks with Chinese Communist Party's International Department head Song Tao, second right, in a train on the way home from China.

South Korean Ambassador to the United States Cho Yoon-je told reporters in Washington Tuesday that "back-channel talks" are taking place between Pyongyang and Washington, adding that "because of the resoluteness of President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un, we may be able to look forward to preparatory talks for a North-U.S. summit in the near future".

"China supports the DPRK's continued adherence to the direction of denuclearization on the peninsula, supports the continuous improvement of inter-Korean relations, supports the DPRK and the United States holding summits and achieving results, and supports relevant parties resolving their respective legitimate concerns through dialogue", Xi told Kim during their face-to-face meeting in Beijing, Xinhua reports.

The North's Korean Central News Agency stated Kim would be visiting China from Monday through Thursday.

At their high-profile summit in Singapore past year, Kim and Trump signed a vaguely-worded pledge on denuclearisation but progress between the two sides has since stalled amid disagreements over the interpretation of their agreement.

"We will not loosen our guard until the promise to denuclearize the Peninsula is kept, and peace is fully institutionalized", added Moon.

Xi was quoted by Xinhua as saying that China supports the U.S.

China could provide economic, political and security guarantees to North Korea in denuclearisation talks, said Hua Po, a Beijing-based independent political commentator. -North Korea summits and hopes the two sides "will meet each other halfway".

His visit was also seen as part of an effort to win Chinese support for a reduction of United Nations sanctions imposed over his nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, which have severely impacted his country's already ailing economy.

North Korea has repeatedly invited Xi to visit Pyongyang.

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China is the North Korea's sole major ally and key trade partner.

Kim spoke with Xi for about an hour Tuesday night, discussing ways to strengthen their ties and lay out strategy for a potential summit between Kim and Trump on curbing Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, Yonhap reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the talks.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves from his train before it departs from Pyongyang to make the trip to Beijing, China, Jan. 7, 2019.

Mr Kim had said in his annual new year's speech in January that he remained committed to denuclearisation, but warned that he would change course if USA sanctions remained.

Each of the previous Kim-Xi meetings have come shortly before or after the North Korean's summits with either Trump or South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

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

It said he met with Xi at the Great Hall of the People on Tuesday after a welcoming ceremony.

North Korea argues that the USA needs to match the steps it has taken towards denuclearisation, namely dismantling a nuclear testing site and a key missile engine facility. Tuesday also coincided with the North Korean leader's 35th birthday.

All sides should "jointly push for a comprehensive resolution of the Korean Peninsula issue", he said.

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