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(LEAD) (US-NK summit) Hotel near N.K.-China border stops receiving bookings amid speculation over Kim's train journey

09:31 February 22, 2019

(ATTN: CLARIFIES quote in 2nd para; ADDS more info in paras 6-7, photo)

BEIJING/SHENYANG, Feb. 22 (Yonhap) -- A Chinese hotel near the border with North Korea stopped receiving reservations for this weekend, a source said Friday, in a sign that the North's leader Kim Jong-un could travel to Vietnam by train for his second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.

"The Zhonglian hotel abruptly decided on Thursday afternoon to stop receiving reservations for Saturday and Sunday," a source said. "It is not receiving foreigners starting Friday and began to cancel bookings. This could be related to Chairman Kim's trip."

The hotel in the Chinese border city of Dandong is located near the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge that links the two countries.

The move came amid speculation over whether the North Korean leader will fly or travel by train all the way to the Southeast Asian nation for the upcoming summit in Hanoi set for Feb. 27-28.

The hotel has not received bookings in the past when the North's leader has traveled to China by train.

The hotel's decision suggests that Kim's train could cross into China on Saturday evening and arrive in Beijing on Sunday, where he could meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping before heading to Hanoi for talks with Trump.

Another possibility is that Kim could fly to Vietnam but still send the special train to the Southeast Asian nation empty so that he can take it to get back home. In that case, he could meet with Xi on the way to Pyongyang.

"Even if Kim's special train crosses over Dandong, we can't know for sure that the leader is on board," another source said.

Kim Chang-son, known as the leader's "butler," reportedly inspected a rail station in Lang Son, Vietnam, a city near the Chinese border on Sunday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (Yonhap)


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