After days of rumors, China’s state news agency confirmed Wednesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un not only made a surprise visit to Beijing to meet with the Chinese leader, but expressed a commitment to denuclearization and said he’d be willing to host a dialogue with the U.S.
The unofficial four-day visit, which included Kim’s wife, was Kim’s first known trip abroad since taking power in 2011. He was invited by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, according to Chinese state media. During the trip, Kim and his wife reportedly had a banquet with Xi and his wife, and watched an art show together.
The meeting comes at a time of heightened tension in the Beijing-Pyongyang relationship over North Korea’s nuclear weapons development program and China’s backing of international efforts to curb it. Kim is also supposed to be meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in for the first time in several weeks, and is expected to meet with President Trump by the end of May.
On Sunday, the North Korean delegation arrived in an olive-green 21-car armored train, which quickly prompted rumors that Kim was aboard because of the resemblance to the train used by Kim’s late father.
The two leaders reportedly spoke about four issues related to improving North Korea-China relations, including frequent communication, promoting diplomatic cooperation, peace, and increased youth exchanges.
"It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearization on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il," Kim said.
Cover image: This picture taken on March 5, 2018 and released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 6, 2018 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) meeting with South Korean delegation, who travelled as envoys of the South's President Moon Jae-in, in Pyongyang. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un discussed ways to ease tensions on the peninsula with visiting South Korean envoys, the state KCNA news agency reported on March 6. STR/AFP/Getty Images