North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping that could help set the stage for a second US-North Korea summit.
The leaders of the two neighbouring countries spoke for about an hour, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported, citing unnamed sources.
Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, then had dinner with Xi and his spouse, Peng Liyuan, the agency added.
The North Korean couple arrived at a Beijing railway station amid tight security around 10:55 am (0255 GMT), Yonhap reported.
A formal escort with motorcycle riders then joined Kim and his delegation to the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, where Kim is set to stay until Thursday.
This is Kim’s fourth visit to China, held amid speculation that he and US President Donald Trump are discussing a new summit focused on ridding North Korea of its nuclear weapons.
“We have always believed it is very beneficial for the US and North Korea to maintain contact with each other as they are key parties to the nuclear issue on the peninsula,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. He added that China has supported the two countries in maintaining a dialogue and solving their issues.
US and North Korean leaders held a historic summit in Singapore in June, at which Kim promised to denuclearize.
But while South Korea and North Korea have continued to mend their relations over the past year, denuclearization negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington appear to have stalled.
Both sides have talked, however, about holding a second summit, with Trump saying Sunday that they are “negotiating a location,” which “will be announced probably in the not-too-distant future.”
In a New Year’s address last week, Kim reaffirmed his commitment to denuclearization but warned he could take a “new path” if the US clung to sanctions against his regime.
Kim, who is starting his China trip on his birthday, is accompanied by top North Korean officials including nuclear negotiator Kim Yong Chol, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and Defence Minister No Kwang Chol.
South Korean media had reported earlier that a special train carrying a high-ranking North Korean official had crossed into China on Monday night.
Kim is also expected to travel to Seoul for the first time this year.
South Korea on Tuesday praised Kim’s visit to China and expressed hope it would contribute to denuclearization and peace, Yonhap said.