State media say Chinese President Xi to visit North Korea

The two leaders will celebrate their two countries' long-lasting friendship and herald a new chapter of their relations, CCTV added.

The implication behind Chinese analysts' predictions for the Xi-Kim meeting in North Korea is that China could be preparing some sort of grand bargain to offer President Trump, breaking up the impasse in nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang in exchange for trade concessions to Beijing.

North Korean state media Korea Central TV also announced Xi's visit.

Zhang said Beijing may be seeking to gain leverage ahead of a G-20 summit in Japan later this month and reassert itself as a global player amid growing concerns over its economy.

The meetings were timed in proximity to Kim's meetings with Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, highlighting Beijing's role as a player in the nuclear standoff.

Xi will visit Pyongyang on Thursday and Friday at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said Chinese broadcaster CCTV.

"I hope that this visit will contribute to the early resumption of talks on the complete denuclearisation of and the establishment of permanent peace on the Korean peninsula", South Korean presidential spokesperson Ko Min-jung said, according to the South China Morning Post.

"North Korea is a card for China to play", Zhang said. Chinese support was key to the effectiveness of USA - and United Nations -backed sanctions of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

A document, seen by sources, claims to describe North Korea's nuclear capabilities as an "all-round security sword".

BEIJING-China's quake monitoring agency says a suspected explosion triggered a minor natural disaster near its border with North Korea.

A North Korea analyst in Beijing named Zhang Liangui gave the South China Morning Post a somewhat less optimistic forecast for Xi's trip to North Korea, suggesting it will be more focused on coordinating China and North Korea's hostile response to US trade policy.

The visit also comes against a backdrop of tense ties between the U.S. and China with the world's two biggest economies locked in a battle over trade and technology.

With Beijing and Washington at loggerheads over trade, China is keen to remind Trump of its influence in Pyongyang, with whom his nuclear negotiations - a point of pride for the U.S. president, who faces an election next year - are also at a deadlock.

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