'Bold steps' needed on N Korea denuclearisation - Moon

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The surprise trip to the Chinese capital served as a reminder to Washington that nuclear-armed Pyongyang has other strategic allies, underscoring the importance of the Sino-North Korean relationship ahead of Kim's possible second summit with US President Donald Trump.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left Beijing after talking and dining with Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to South Korean media, in a show of unity as they engage in delicate negotiations with President Donald Trump's administration.

South Korea's Ambassador to the US says he is hopeful that a second meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will take place.

"China supports the DPRK's continued adherence to the direction of denuclearisation on the peninsula, supports the continuous improvement of inter-Korean relations", Xi was quoted as saying, using the initial of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

China is the North's sole major ally and key trade partner but relations had deteriorated over Pyongyang's nuclear activities, before warming up previous year, with Kim meeting Xi three times.

His approval rating hit stratospheric levels during the first set of summits a year ago between himself and Kim, and later between the North Korean and United States leaders in Singapore. But he also urged the US President to consider issuing a formal declaration which would officially end the 1950-53 Korean War, which he suggested would encourage Kim to scrap its nuclear weapons.

Xi told Kim that that China supports the U.S.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson 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.

Pyongyang wants Washington to lift the sanctions the United Nations imposes on the country because of its nuclear and missile programmes.

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Kim left Pyongyang Monday for a visit that is slated to end Thursday, North Korean and Chinese state media reported. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, "The Chinese have been very clear to us that these are separate issues".

Kim visited a pharmaceutical plant that makes traditional Chinese medicine on Wednesday and met Xi again for lunch at a hotel before heading back to North Korea by train.

China is the North's main ally and key trade partner. It came after USA and North Korean officials were thought to have met in Vietnam to discuss the site of the summit. Kim's visit also marks the 70th anniversary of ties between Pyongyang and Beijing. Mr Kim has been visiting Beijing this week to project an image of a strong Pyongyang-Beijing alliance in advance of a second potential summit.

The North's Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim told Xi that the North remains unchanged in its push to seek a negotiated resolution of the nuclear standoff.

In an interview with CNBC on Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised China's support for resolving the North Korean crisis and said he did not think the US trade dispute with China would affect this.

President Moon Jae-in called on North Korea to take bold steps towards denuclearization.

During the summit Kim met with Xi at the Great Hall of the People on Tuesday after a welcoming ceremony.

Those demands were in response to Pyongyang's initial, unilateral steps toward denuclearisation that included dismantling its only known nuclear testing site and a key missile engine facility. Xi then threw a lavish banquet for Kim to celebrate his birthday, but state-run CCTV made no mention of Kim's visit.

"China has been an important force in promoting the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and peace and stability on the peninsula", said Lu.