Jan. 7 (UPI) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in China on Monday for a visit through Thursday, Chinese and North Korean state media reported.
Kim, making his fourth trip since gaining power in 2011, arrived at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to a spokesperson for the International Department of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee as reported Tuesday by state-run Xinhua..
The train trip took around 25 hours to cover 833 miles
Kim and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, left for China on Monday, Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency said, according to Yonhap News Agency.
Also on the trip were party, government and military officials. They included Kim Yong-chol, a key nuclear negotiator with the United States as well as Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho and Defense Minister No Kwang-chol, according to the KCNA.
South Korean media had reported that a special green train carrying a high-ranking North Korean official crossed into China on Monday night. Dozens of security vehicles and officials blocked the roads around a train station in the Chinese border city of Dandong, according to Yonhap.
The train arrived at station in Beijing around 10:55 a.m. Tuesday. Escorted by Chinese police, the traveling party wa headed to Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.
The trip came amid talks between North Korea and the United States to set the venue for the second meeting between Kim and President Donald Trump.
Last year, Kim met with Xi in China three times before and after the summit with Trump in June in Singapore.
"It is rare that the North's leader travels overseas at the start of the year, Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, told Yonhap. His trip to China "shows how important it is to advance relations between the North and China.
"It is also aimed at showing off the image of a leader of a normal state."
Last month Kim expressed disappointment for not making a trip to Seoul by the year's end in a personal note to South Korean President Moon Jae-in
During a summit in Pyongyang with the South Korean leader in September, he agreed to travel to Seoul "at an early date" for the first time as a North Korean leader.