North Korea announced Wednesday its leader Kim Jong-un made an "unofficial" visit to China this week, following earlier claims he had travelled abroad for the first time since taking power in 2011.
Media speculation intensified after a special North Korean train arrived in China amid heavy security on Sunday.
The North Korea state-run radio station confirmed Kim was invited by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who reportedly accepted a request to visit the North at his convenience.
Kim was joined by his wife and senior officials, just weeks before planned summits with his counterparts in South Korea and the United States, Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump.
Moon and Trump are aiming to bring about North Korea's denuclearization following years of tensions in the region.
In that regard, Kim's message was positive and in line with talks he held with visiting South Korean officials earlier this month.
"It is our consistent stance to be committed to denuclearization on the peninsula," he was quoted as saying by China's Xinhua News Agency.
But Kim also insisted South Korea and the U.S. must "respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace".
Meanwhile, South Korea's presidential office was notified by China in advance of Kim's trip, according to an official cited by local news agency Yonhap.
Both Seoul and Washington had been cagey in response to this week's media speculation, refusing to verify the story.
A White House statement released after Wednesday's confirmation revealed China had also briefed the U.S. on Kim's visit, celebrating the communication as "further evidence that our campaign of maximum pressure is creating the appropriate atmosphere for dialogue with North Korea".
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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