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Mysterious train sparks rumours of Kim Jong-un's China visit

Mysterious train sparks rumours of Kim Jong-un's China visit

Following the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" policy on North Korea, the agreement to meet with Kim could potentially erode the effectiveness of sanctions, some indicated. "But, if it has China as an ally, Pyongyang may think it will be able to protect its interests and profits during the summits".

As leader of North Korea, Kim has never met with another head of state, and even purged his own uncle in a brutal execution, allegedly over his ties to China.

To support the claim that it is in Washington's crosshairs, North Korea cites the tens of thousands of United States troops lined up along the southern side of the demilitarised zone - the heavily fortified border dividing the Korean peninsula.

It has yet to be confirmed if the official is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Questions about the summit have only grown since Trump surprised the world this month by agreeing to meet with Kim after repeatedly threatening war if he didn't halt his nuclear program.

"I'm skeptical that they would really get rid of all their nuclear weapons", he said.

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The news agency Reuters said a "high-ranking North Korean official appeared to have arrived by train in Beijing", quoting Japanese media reports.

China's support of worldwide sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear program has strained relations with its longtime ally.

Kyodo, citing sources, reported that on Sunday, a special train that might have carried the official passed through Dandong.

The rail journey between Dandong and Beijing covers more than 680 miles.

Delays were also reported across the city's rail network as Chinese authorities shut down the area around the train station. If true, this is Kim's first diplomatic visit since he succeeded his late father in 2011.

At the Diaoyutai guest house, where Kim Jong-Il stayed during his visits to Beijing, there was an unusually heavy police presence with officers stationed every 50-100 meters in front of the imposing compound. However, he is not known to have travelled outside the country since assuming power in late 2011 after his father's death.

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