Speculation about a visit to Beijing by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un or another high-level Pyongyang official was running high Tuesday amid talk of preparations for a meeting between the North's reclusive leader and President Trump. The arrival of a special train in Beijing and unusually heavy security at a guesthouse where prominent North Koreans have stayed in the past have fueled talk that Kim was making his first visit to China as the North's leader, the AP reports. Such a trip would be seen as a potential precursor to Kim's planned summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in late April and his anticipated meeting with Trump by May. Analysts, however, questioned whether Kim would make the visit to Beijing himself rather than send an envoy.
While there has been no word of a meeting with Chinese leaders, China has been one of North Korea's most important allies even though relations have chilled recently because of Kim's development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. On Monday, heavy security was reported at the Friendship Bridge on the Yalu River marking the border between China and North Korea before a train passed. Japanese broadcaster NTV reported that the green and yellow train appeared very similar to the one that Kim's father and predecessor as North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, took to Beijing in 2011. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, asked whether Kim or another North Korean official was visiting Beijing, said, "I know you're all very curious but I have no information on that." (These defectors crossed the Yalu River, then vanished.)