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[Breaking] Kim reaffirms commitment to denuclearization in summit with Xi

11 January, 2019, 11:11 | Author: Lawrence Cooper
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Kim arrived in Beijing on Tuesday for his fourth visit to Pyongyang's sole major diplomatic friend, meeting President Xi Jinping and reportedly visiting a factory.

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.

South Korea's Ambassador to the US says he is hopeful that a second meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will take place.

Beijing is intent on keeping Pyongyang within its sphere of influence - the North acts as a buffer state, keeping the 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea far from China's borders. But others say Moon simply made a symbolic, conciliatory gesture toward North Korea.

Kim has often sought meetings with China ahead of making key decisions, including ahead of his first summit with Trump, in late March and May, then once more a week after the June 12 Singapore summit.

"Kim also stated that denuclearization and the issue of ending the war has nothing to do with the status of United States troops in South Korea", he added.

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

But Chinese officials also likely want to impress on Kim - who has so far pursued only limited reforms to his statist economy - the benefits the giant Communist country has enjoyed in its transformation from impoverished nation to economic powerhouse.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular news briefing Tuesday in Beijing that Kim's visit had no bearing on US trade talks.

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"Corresponding measures must be devised in order to facilitate North Korea's continued denuclearization efforts", he added, such as the United States agreeing a "peace regime" and formally declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

According to Mr. Moon, the mediator between North Korea and the US, Seoul will cooperate with the US in resolving the issue of sanctions on North Korea.

"The US is translating Kim's trip to China as (part of) a war of nerves".

Prior to departing Beijing, North Korean state media reported that Kim once again extended an invitation to Xi to visit Pyongyang, which Xi reportedly accepted.

Speculation over possible locations has swirled among Korea-watchers, with the candidates including Hanoi in Communist-ruled Vietnam, Ulan Bator in Mongolia - which Kim can reach by train - Sweden, which has a long history of mediating between Pyongyang and Washington, and even the USA state of Hawaii.

Kim and Xi agreed to jointly study and co-ordinate "the management of the situation of the Korean peninsula and the denuclearisation negotiations in particular", the North's official KCNA news agency reported.

"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", Mr. Lu said. Experts agree that while neither the USA nor China is "winning" in the trade war, China may be at a disadvantage.

Each of the previous meetings between Kim and Xi have come shortly before or after summits the North Korean leader has held with either Trump or the South's President Moon Jae-in.

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