View from Washington: Kim Jong Un now poised to extract concessions
The White House had a measured reaction to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's visit to Beijing and meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping, while preserving the notion that it was US President Donald Trump who provided the impetus for the diplomatic breakthrough.
"We see this development as further evidence that our campaign of maximum pressure is creating the appropriate atmosphere for dialogue with North Korea," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said. A briefing for Mr Trump on the meeting included "a personal message from President Xi to President Trump", she added. No details were offered on the message.
It is in Mr Xi's interest to have a say in any US-North Korea agreement and US-based analysts see his meeting with Mr Kim as a sign of Beijing moving to preserve its relevance, and North Korea bringing China into consultations as a balance to the United States.
And it is also a sign of Mr Kim, at the helm of a nuclear power, taking to the diplomatic stage as an equal, well positioned to extract concessions ranging from the lifting of sanctions to, possibly, the withdrawal of US troops from the Korean peninsula - a strategic goal no doubt shared by China.
View from Beijing: China anxious about being sidelined
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's just-concluded visit to Beijing is both an indication that Pyongyang's fraught ties with its neighbour have improved and that Beijing is anxious about being marginalised in talks on the Korean peninsula nuclear issue, analysts said.
Xinhua news agency yesterday said Mr Kim visited Beijing from Sunday to yesterday, although wire agencies reported that his train was seen leaving Beijing station at 3pm on Tuesday. Xinhua also said Mr Kim met President Xi Jinping and other senior Chinese officials.
The two leaders' meeting comes ahead of Mr Kim's summit with South Korean President Moon Jae In next month and a possible one with US President Donald Trump in May.
"China feels a little nervous" about these summits and that "it might be left out and not be in control of the direction of developments on the Korean peninsula", said Mr Zhao Tong, a researcher with the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy in Beijing. This is why Mr Xi extended an invitation to Mr Kim to visit Beijing, he added.
View from Seoul: North Korea eyes leverage from getting close to China
North Korea's eagerness to mend ties with its long-time ally China could be aimed at gaining leverage ahead of two major summits with South Korea and the United States, analysts here say.
South Korea welcomed the surprise meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Beijing this week as positive, and said it hoped it would contribute to denuclearisation and peace-building on the Korean peninsula.
But as a senior South Korean government official noted separately, the North appears to be making some "fairly sophisticated moves" and sending the signal that it has China's backing ahead of summit talks with the US.
"An active role from China is unavoidable" to facilitate denuclearisation talks, and Beijing's stance towards Pyongyang "isn't much different from Seoul's strategy", the Hankyoreh newspaper said in an editorial.
View from Tokyo: Japan fears being left out of upcoming talks
Japan fears it will be left behind in the rapid progress over North Korea, and that it will have no stake at the table to shape developments to come, analysts said.
This could have prompted Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's remarks yesterday, when he expressed worries that Japan's agenda would be left out in upcoming talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In, and United States President Donald Trump.
According to the Associated Press, Mr Abe told Parliament his concerns that the talks might focus on long-range inter-continental ballistic missiles and a ban on nuclear tests, ignoring the short-and medium-range ballistic missiles that put Japan squarely within the crosshairs.
Speaking hours after China announced that Mr Kim visited Beijing earlier this week, Mr Abe also expressed concern that Mr Trump would neglect to raise, on Japan's behalf, Pyongyang's abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.