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A mysterious train that arrived in China’s capital with unusually heavy security on Monday sparked rumors that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was making a surprise visit to Beijing.
Reports of the train arriving in Beijing first surfaced when photos emerged from the train station. Japanese television network NTV and public broadcaster NHK said the heavy security that was seen in the videos and photos suggested a senior official was aboard.
The train may have traveled through the northeastern Chinese border city of Dandong and was possibly carrying the North Korean despot, Japan’s Kyodo News reported. Three sources who spoke to Bloomberg News confirmed Kim’s visit to Beijing, though further details were not provided.
The White House said in Monday’s press briefing it could not confirm reports of Kim’s potential visit to Beijing. A spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said she was not aware of the situation and had no further comment. North Korea’s state-run media had no reports of a delegation traveling to China.
There was also heavy security reported at the Friendship Bridge before it crossed from North Korea to China. To deepen the mystery, a motorcade of black limousines was also seen waiting at the train station. Rows of Chinese soldiers appeared to be marching on the platform.
Kim is expected to have a summit meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in late April and with President Trump in May.
There had been no word of Kim planning a summit with Beijing, however. China has been one of North Korea’s most important allies, but relations have grown chilly because of Kim’s development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il, visited Beijing in 2011. The late leader also took a similar green and yellow train that was spotted on Monday for his son’s visit. This would be the first known visit to an outside country for Kim since he assumed power in 2011.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.