A mysterious North Korean train spotted crossing into China late Monday sparked rumors that leader Kim Jong Un was making his first visit of the year to see Chinese President Xi Jinping amid talks of a possible second U.S.-North Korea summit.
Rumors about Kim’s visit to China began late Monday local time when a North Korean train painted green carrying a “senior North Korean official” was reported crossing over the North Korea-China border, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported. Heavy security was spotted in the train station in the Chinese border city of Dandong just after 10 p.m.
“It hasn’t been confirmed whether a senior North Korean official was on the train,” a source told Yonhap.
South Korea’s Hankyoreh newspaper also reported a North Korean official, possibly Kim, was on the train that crossed over the countries’ border late Monday, according to Reuters. Kim used a very distinctive armored train made especially for him on visits to China last year.
North Korea, however, rarely confirms visits until they have been completed.
This would be Kim’s first foreign trip of the year and his fourth overall to China. The despot made his first visit last year in March — which officials first confirmed days after a mystery train was spotted arriving and leaving a train station in the Chinese capital of Beijing. Kim met with Xi again in May prior to the historic U.S.-North Korea summit in Singapore.
The reported meeting Monday came a day after President Trump told reporters a second location for the second U.S.-North Korea summit is in negotiations.
“It will be announced probably in the not too distant future,” Trump said Sunday about the location of the second summit. “They do want to meet and we want to meet and we’ll see what happens.”
Trump said there’s “very good dialogue” between the U.S. and North Korea despite the recent stalemate in denuclearization talks.
North Korea and China have worked to maintain friendly ties amid thawing tensions between the Hermit Kingdom and South Korea and the United States. The North Korean leader also met with Xi after the June summit with Trump.
Kim’s regime, however, has been bogged down by international sanctions caused by past nuclear and missile tests.
Tuesday also marks Kim Jong Un’s supposed birthday, which North Korean officials have never confirmed or publicly acknowledged. The closest confirmation came in 2014 when former NBA star Dennis Rodman famously sang “Happy Birthday” to the North Korean leader during a visit in Pyongyang. He’s believed to be turning 35.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.