Kim Jong Un heads home via train after two-day Beijing visit

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In this January 9, 2019, photo provided on January 10, 2019, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second left, talks with Chinese Communist Party's International Department head Song Tao, second right, in a train on the way home from China.

Kim reportedly said North Korea "will continue sticking to the stance of denuclearization and resolving the Korean Peninsula issue through dialogue and consultation, and make efforts for the second summit between (North Korean) and USA leaders to achieve results that will be welcomed by the global community".

He added that the two-day trip shows that Kim is "sensitive" to the demands of China, North Korea's primary trade and aid source.

Discussions between the USA and North Korea over Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal have stalled since Kim and Trump's high-profile summit in Singapore in June where they issued a vaguely worded declaration about denuclearisation.

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Kim also said North Korea hopes its "legitimate concerns" will be given due respect, a reference to its desire for security guarantees and a possible peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.

"The path toward peace on the Korean Peninsula still continues to expand even at this moment, and it will speed up even more this year".

"China hopes that the DPRK and the United States will meet each other halfway", he was quoted as saying. His delegation was seen off by high-ranking Chinese officials and honour guard at a Beijing train station and could return to North Korea as soon as Thursday morning, Yonhap said.

His visit was also seen as part of an effort to win Chinese support for a reduction of United Nations sanctions imposed over his nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, which have severely impacted his country's already ailing economy.

The fact that Kim's visit came at the same time U.S. negotiators were in China to discuss an end to the trade war is also unlikely to be a coincidence, said Sangsoo Lee, head of the Stockholm-based Korea Center at the Institute for Security and Development Policy, adding that there could "political intention" behind it.

For Xi, whose country provides a lifeline to North Korea's anemic economy, the meeting with Kim reminds Trump that China's co-operation will make any nuclear deal more effective.

Kim agreed to visit Seoul during the third inter-Korean summit held in Pyongyang in September.

The North has repeatedly pledged to work towards "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula", a vague term that could be taken to also include United States forces in the South and in the wider region.

The visit coincides with what South Korean officials say is Kim's 35th birthday on Tuesday.

South Korea's President Moon Jae-in urged North Korea to take firmer disarmament measures and the reward them, suggesting Thursday he'll push for sanction exemptions to restart dormant economic cooperation projects with the North.

KCNA reported that Kim on Wednesday visited a pharmaceutical plant belonging to Beijing Tongrentang Co.

Kim later met with Xi for a second consecutive day, having a luncheon around noon at the five-star Beijing Hotel, which has a long history of hosting important receptions, near Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Those projects include a jointly-run factory complex in North Korea, and the opening of new tourist areas.