North Korea's Kim arrives at Beijing train station: Yonhap

North Korea's acting ambassador to Italy Jo Song Gil

North Korea's acting ambassador to Italy Jo Song Gil Credit Farra di Soligo Parish Aldo-Cietto

Earlier, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that a North Korean train "possibly carrying a senior official" had crossed the border into China, passing through the Chinese border city of Dandong.

The NIS reportedly said Jo had not made with South Korean agents, but Kim wouldn't say if the agency told lawmakers his current location or whether he intends to defect.

As Kim arrived in Beijing on Monday for a three-day visit, Chinese media went out of their way to flatter the young leader.

Kim's latest visit coincided with the second day of the crucial trade talks between the United States and Chinese officials here.

Until his first trip in March, Kim had not met Xi in the six years after inheriting power from his father.

With continued economic slowdown, China is under increasing pressure from Trump for reciprocal trade arrangements which could hit its economy further.

Mr Trump confirmed on Sunday that the United States was "negotiating a location" for a follow-up to the June Singapore summit, adding that he had spoken to Kim "indirectly", reported CNN.

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"[Mr] Kim is eager to remind the Trump administration that he does have diplomatic and economic options besides what Washington and Seoul can offer", Harry J Kazianis, Director of Defense Studies at the Centre for the National Interest told Reuters.

Mr Kim's visit to Beijing shows how much more complicated it actually is.

The former Speaker cited that the leaders of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic Republic of Korea engaged in a series of diplomatic efforts in order to achieve permanent peace in the Korean Peninsula.

But relations went through a rough patch in recent years as China backed United Nations sanctions over the North's nuclear tests. The timeline may have overlapped with the two events taking place at the same time, he said.

"The Chinese have been very clear to us that these are separate issues", Pompeo said.

"In fact, during his New Year's Days speech, Kim's "new way" that he referred to may well have been a veiled threat to move closer to Beijing".

Kim's four-day visit comes after he expressed frustration in his annual New Year's address over the lack of progress in negotiations with Washington since his unprecedented summit with Trump in Singapore seven months ago.

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Ever since the Singapore summit, Pyongyang has hinted at a familiar fallback plan if talks with the USA fail.

Washington and Pyongyang seemed close to war at points during 2017, as the North staged a series of increasingly powerful weapons tests that got it tantalisingly close to its nuclear goal of one day targeting with pinpoint accuracy anywhere on the USA mainland.

North Korea may publicly ignore Jo's possible defection or hold back harsh criticism to avoid highlighting the vulnerability of its government as it pursues diplomacy with Washington and Seoul, said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University.

But the U.S. has been insisting on their continuance. However, Xi has called on the sides to "meet each other halfway", and China's foreign minister in September urged some form of sanctions relief in response to any positive outcomes from the first Kim-Trump summit.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is in Beijing this week, his fourth visit in a less than a year.

Officials from US and China are meeting in Beijing this week to negotiate an end to the trade war that has led to hundreds of billions of dollars in tariffs over the past year. The US and China have been locked in an escalating trade spat since early 2018, raising import tariffs on each other's goods.

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