Special North Korean train enters China: Yonhap

Seoul (AFP) –


A special North Korean train entered China late Monday, Yonhap news agency reported, raising speculation that leader Kim Jong Un could be on his way to Beijing.

The train crossed the border around 10.15 pm local time (1315 GMT) and was expected in the Chinese capital Tuesday morning, the Southern news agency reported, citing an informed source.

China is the North's key diplomatic ally and main source of trade and aid. Kim visited three times last year to pay his respects to leader Xi Jinping, after not meeting him for more than six years following his rise to power.

None of the trips were announced in advance, and the earliest indications of the first one -- in March, before Kim had met either South Korean president Moon Jae-in or Donald Trump of the US -- came when his train was spotted in Beijing.

In the Chinese border city of Dandong, dozens of security vehicles and officials blocked the roads around the train station before the train passed through, Yonhap reported, before reopening them afterwards.

It had not been confirmed whether a senior North Korean official was on board, it quoted its source as saying.

But Japan's Kyodo news agency said hotel guests in Dandong had not been allowed to enter rooms facing the river that forms the border on Monday afternoon, in what it cited sources describing as "an apparent move to prevent the train from being seen".

Denuclearisation talks between the North and the US have stalled but speculation has mounted of a potential second summit between Kim -- whose birthday is reportedly on Tuesday, although that has never been confirmed by Pyongyang -- and Trump.