North Korean leader Kim Jong Un set off by train for Vietnam on Saturday, for his second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump next week, media reported, and hours later, two witnesses saw a train crossing into China from North Korea.
The reports of Kim’s departure from North Korea came after Vietnam announced that Kim would make an official visit in “coming days”, as the Southeast Asian country prepares to host the summit with Trump on Wednesday and Thursday.
No details of the leaders’ travel arrangements, or for the summit, have been officially released.
Trump and Kim will meet in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, eight months after their historic summit in Singapore in June – the first between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader – at which they pledged to work towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
But progress has been scant since then.
The Trump administration has pressed North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program, which threatens the United States, before it can expect any concessions.
North Korea wants an easing of punishing U.S.-led sanctions, security guarantees and a formal end of the 1950-1953 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a treaty.
Kim left the North Korean capital of Pyongyang at around 5 p.m. (0800 GMT) in an armored train, Russia’s TASS news agency said, citing a North Korean diplomatic source.
North Korea’s state media has yet to confirm either Kim’s trip to Vietnam or his summit with Trump.
Two witnesses in the Chinese border city of Dandong, where the main rail line from North Korea arrives in China, said a train had crossed the Yalu River into China at around 9.30 p.m. (1330 GMT).
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency and broadcaster YTN also reported that a train suspected to be carrying Kim had arrived in Dandong.
Chinese security chased away people trying to take photographs, one witness said.