North Korea's Kim Jong Un ends Beijing visit as Trump summit looms

10 January, 2019, 07:22 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Kim Jong Un's motorcade heads out on day 2 of China trip

Chinese President Xi Jinping said he hopes North Korea and the United States can meet each other half way as they plan a second summit between leaders Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump, China's official Xinhua news agency said on Thursday (Jan 10).

State media outlets in China and North Korea, in an unusual move, announced Kim's trip in advance, as a train carrying the North Korean leader and his entourage of senior officials crossed into China.

In Beijing, Kim told Xi he hoped North Korea's "reasonable concerns" would be taken seriously in order to achieve a comprehensive resolution on the Korean peninsula, Xinhua said.

The US is refraining from negative comments on Kim's trip because China has been tough on the enforcement of United Nations sanctions against North Korea and trade talks with Beijing are going smoothly, said Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy.

Kim Jong-un visits a Tong Ren Tang pharmaceutical plant in Yizhuang, Beijing on Wednesday.

Shi Yinhong, an worldwide relations professor at Renmin University in Beijing, said Kim's trip would have no direct influence on the progress of trade talks. Beyond confirming his presence in Beijing, there has been no detail provided from either the North Korean or Chinese side on his schedule.

Kim's fourth visit to China comes ahead of a much-anticipated summit with United States president Trump later this year. He said Beijing remains supportive of efforts to end tensions over USA demands for a halt to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. In his speech, he warned that Pyongyang may change its approach to nuclear talks if Washington persists with sanctions.

A Cheong Wa Dae spokesman declined to say whether Seoul was informed of Kim's visit by either North Korea or China.

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Kim reiterated a pledge from his New Year's speech that the North would try to make a second summit achieve a result that the global community would welcome, Xinhua said.

Officially, at least, China says it considers the tariff battle and North Korea's weapons programs to be entirely separate.

He also credited President Xi Jinping with helping reduce regional tensions, saying "the Korean Peninsula situation has been easing since previous year, and China's important role in this process is obvious to all". Xi then threw a lavish banquet for Kim to celebrate his birthday, but state-run CCTV made no mention of Kim's visit.

Trump and Kim reached an agreement to work toward the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", during their first meeting in June in Singapore. Mr. Kim was accompanied by his wife, Ri Sol Ju, the news agency said.

"For North Korea itself, 2019 is his strategic turning point".

Relations between China and North Korea had deteriorated in recent years over Pyongyang's nuclear activities, but Mr Kim has made sure to keep Mr Xi informed about his dealings with the US and South Korea, and ties appear to have warmed.

He also said China would be ready to play a "positive and constructive role" towards maintaining peace and achieving denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula, reported Xinhua.

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