China's Xi arrives in North Korea for historic trip
China's Xi arrives in North Korea for historic trip
Xi Jinping leaves for Pyongyang, marking first visit by Chinese leader to North Korea in 14 years
20 June, 2019, 10:55
Meanwhile, South Korea said Wednesday it would send 50,000 tons of rice in aid to North Korea to help the impoverished state cope with its worsening food shortages, caused in part by crippling economic sanctions imposed by the US.
On Tuesday, China joined Russian Federation in blocking the UN Security Council committee that monitors North Korea sanctions from declaring that the country exceeded its annual import cap on refined petroleum products, the Associated Press said, citing two diplomats. Kim's sister, Kim Yo Jong, and officials who played prominent roles in recent nuclear talks with the United States were also on hand.
Beijing is Pyongyang's only major ally, and the visit could bring fresh support measures for North Korea's floundering economy, which has been hit hard by US-led sanctions.
"On both sides of the streets were huge crowds of people, a magnificent and unprecedented event", it said.
The summit comes as both Xi and Kim are locked in separate disputes with the United States - Xi over trade and Kim over his nuclear weapons.
"The trip is important since it's 70 years since China and North Korea established diplomatic relations".
Xi's trip highlights two-way ties that "never waver despite any headwinds", and strengthen "blood ties" between the two peoples, it said.
Xi will hold a summit with Kim Jong Un, attend a welcoming banquet and watch a mass gymnastic performance on his first day, according to Chinese state media.
Xi, who will be given the honour of a state visit, will pay homage at the capital's Friendship Tower, a monument to the Chinese troops who saved the North from defeat during the Korean War. The conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty, leaving the North technically still at war with South Korea.
Xi could come back from Pyongyang with some leverage when he meets Trump at the G20 summit in Japan next week.
Beijing which had fretted over being sidelined after the North Korean leader agreed to meet Trump past year where Trump had gone as far as saying that he had fallen "in love" with Kim.
"When both China & North Korea are confronted by the USA, they have a lot to discuss with each other", Lijian Zhao, the deputy chief of mission of China's embassy in Pakistan, wrote on Twitter.
"Xi wants everyone to remain acutely aware that he can influence Kim, and that no comprehensive, durable deal with North Korea can occur without China's assistance and approval", Scott Seaman, Asia director of the Eurasia Group consultancy, said in a research note.
It appeared on the front page of North Korea's main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, and China's Xinhua news agency.
The Trump administration has said sanctions will remain in place until the North commits to fully and verifiably relinquishing its nuclear and missile program upfront.
China has also defended its "normal" trade and business ties with North Korea.
"We are pleased to see that with Chairman Kim's correct decision and the concerted efforts of all parties concerned, the general trend of peaceful dialogue on the Korean Peninsula has taken shape, and a political settlement to the Peninsula issue sees a rare historical opportunity, which has been universally recognized and anticipated by the global community", he said. While China has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to the global sanctions regime it helped erect against North Korea, the country has shown its limits amid the trade showdown with Trump.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen on a screen while delivering a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia June 7, 2019.
Fuel imports are limited and most major exports are banned.
State media say drought has hit North Korea, with global aid groups reporting food production dropping dramatically amid poor harvests.
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