Kim Jong Un actually did visit China, claims he’s ‘committed to denuclearization’

The North Korean supreme leader also expressed his willingness to meet with Trump in talks with Xi Jinping

And so, it turns out that the occupant of the high-security mystery train that arrived in Beijing on Monday was, in fact, none other than North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un.

Today, Chinese state media released photos and descriptions of Kim’s “unofficial visit” to the Chinese capital where he met with Xi Jinping and purportedly voiced his support for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

“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 was quoted as saying in a report from China’s official Xinhua news agency.

In addition, Kim also reportedly expressed his willingness to meet with US President Donald Trump in what would be an unprecedented summit between the two countries’ leaders.

“The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if south Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace,” Xinhua quotes Kim as saying.

Kim was accompanied to Beijing by his wife Ri Sol Ju.

The Beijing visit is Kim’s first to a foreign country since rising to power in 2011 following his father’s death. It comes after Donald Trump announced his willingness earlier this month to meet with Kim after South Korean officials said that the North Korean leader was willing to discuss finally giving up his country’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

In recent years, China-North Korea relations have become increasingly strained thanks to Pyongyang’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons. China has slapped a number of different UN-backed sanctions on its tiny neighbor, doing damage to the Hermit Kingdom’s already weak economy. However, it remains obvious that Beijing still has no interest in seeing Kim’s regime fall — a collapse that could see US troops arriving back on its northeastern border.

Top officials from both countries engage in talks in the Great Hall of the People.

These past few years of unpleasantness have been wiped clean from the pages of Chinese media, replaced by the two leaders extolling the “great importance” of the traditional friendship between China and North Korea.

Xinhua says that Kim visited Beijing partly to congratulate Xi on his reelection earlier this month as Chinese president, “in line with the DPRK-China friendly tradition,” and partly to inform Xi in person about the changes taking place in the Korean Peninsula, “out of comradeship and moral responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Xi was quoted as praising the ties of friendship between the elder generations of leaders of North Korea and China, indicating that he would like to see the return of the golden days of that special relationship.

“The two parties and countries have supported each other and coordinated with each other during long-term practices, making great contributions to the development of the socialist cause,” the Chinese president was quoted as saying.

While in Beijing, Kim made time to check out a model of China’s colossal alien hunting telescope.

Considering the central importance that the nuclear weapons programs holds to North Korea and to Kim’s grip on power, many remain skeptical that Pyongyang plans to give up what it has called its “treasured sword of justice.”

Indeed, if denuclearization does happen, it is likely to be something that happens not overnight, but over the course of a decade, experts say.

“Kim Jong Un does not need to sell anything to the North Korean population, particularly because denuclearization is a process that will take at least 10 years to realistically achieve,” Michael Madden, an expert on North Korea leadership at Johns Hopkins University’s 38 North website, told Reuters about Kim’s latest promises.

“Pyongyang most likely envisions … a series of incremental agreements around this, rather than one or two large grand bargains.”

Kim at North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Institute.

For more photos of Kim’s historic visit to Beijing, check out this Twitter thread from Oliver Hotham, managing editor of NK News:

And enjoy this footage from Chinese state media:

[Images via Xinhua]