But as global sanctions have increased over the past year, coal is one of the few local resources to which Kim can turn as he tries to make good on promises to improve life in a country notorious for limited electricity, analysts and defectors say.
During the surprise meeting at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Kim told Xi he was committed to giving up his nuclear arsenal.
Acting North Korean Ambassador to Italy Jo Song-gil, who disappeared with his family last November, escaped to a third country but was discovered by Italian intelligence officials and taken back to Italy to be placed in protective custody, the Corriere della Sera reported Saturday. "Or is North Korea going to continue a policy which essentially involves not testing any weapons during this time but hasn't really involved much else". -North Korea summit in Singapore.
He became temporary acting ambassador in October 2017, after Italy expelled the then ambassador Mun Jong Nam in protest at a nuclear test Pyongyang staged a month earlier in violation of United Nations resolutions. North Korea has typically bristled at any defections from the elite.
Still, the North Korean leader is already refraining from putting all of his eggs in one basket, saying in his New Year's address that, despite the stalled talks, he was willing to meet Trump again at any time to produce results "welcomed by the worldwide community".
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At some recently constructed high-rise apartment buildings, for example, potential residents fear facing dozens of flights of stairs during power outages.
North Korea generates almost 50 percent of its electricity from seven coal power plants and one oil-fired plant, and the rest from hydroelectric facilities.
"So I think this is China's effort to try and be part of this process and the key question of course is what is their message to the North Koreans", Hill added.
The visit comes amid talks of a possible second U.S.
Coal exports to China fell to 4.83 million tonnes in 2017, from more than 20 million tonnes in 2016, according to Chinese data. He defected to South Korea.