Thursday, 24 January, 2019

In talks with Kim, China's Xi backs second North Korea-US summit

Kim Jong Un's motorcade heads out on day 2 of China trip Kim Jong Un departs Beijing after meetings with Xi Jinping
Patty Aguilar | 10 January, 2019, 07:26

In this Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, third from left, and his wife Ri Sol Ju, second from left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, third from right, and his wife Peng Liyuan, far right, attend a meeting at the Beijing Hotel in Beijing.

Kim couldn't be seen, but was presumed to be on board the long train as it crossed on elevated tracks over a busy Beijing street and headed toward eastern China and the border with North Korea.

A special train believed to be carrying Kim Jong Un departed Beijing on Wednesday after a two-day visit by the North Korean leader to the Chinese capital.

It is not clear when or where a possible second Kim-Trump summit would take place, though South Korean president Moon Jae-in has said it will happen "soon".

The worldwide community expects peaceful dialogue on the fate of the Korean peninsula to continue and yield results, Xi told Kim during the North Korean leader's fourth visit to China in the past 12 months, according to the Xinhua report.

Kim's trip to China this week followed reports of advanced negotiations for a second summit between Washington and Pyongyang aimed at resolving the standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes. However, neither side has provided details of what he has done since arriving aboard his personal armored train on Tuesday morning.

Progress between Washington and Pyongyang has always been hobbled by wide differences on how denuclearisation should unfold, and under what conditions.

Analysts here said the North Korean leader is seeking to strengthen its negotiating position by aligning the country and China ahead of his meeting with Trump.

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China also wants the sanctions relaxed and Xi said it "hopes that the DPRK and the United States will meet each other halfway" according to China's state news agency Xinhua, using the initials of the North's official name.

The North Korea leader, who stressed that attaining economic self-sufficiency and prosperity is the country's core drive in his New Year's address, spent some 30 minutes there inspecting production sites, which could be a model for North Korea in modernizing its herbal medicine industry.

He also credited President Xi Jinping with helping reduce regional tensions, saying "the Korean Peninsula situation has been easing since past year, and China's important role in this process is obvious to all". "Kim also made the visit as a gesture that he wouldn't beg for an early North Korea-US summit", said Cha Du-hyeogn, a visiting scholar at Seoul's Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

"We always believe that, as key parties to the Korean Peninsula issue, it's important for the two sides to maintain contact and we always support their dialogue to achieve positive outcomes, " Lu told reporters.

Kim's visit coincided with trade talks between Chinese and United States officials in Beijing.

Ties between China and North Korea, which had frayed as Pyongyang stepped up its missile and nuclear tests up to late 2017, warmed over the past year as Kim engaged with China, South Korea and the United States.

Trump and Kim reached an agreement to work toward the "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", during their first meeting in June in Singapore.

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