Xi ‘hopes NK and US will meet half­way’

The Phnom Penh Post - - WORLD -

close to its Ko­rea War a lly if diplo­macy fails.

Trump’s with­drawal from the Iran nu­clear deal and Libyan leader Moamer Kad­hafi’s ouster after giv­ing up his own weapons pro­gramme are not dis­tant mem­o­ries.

China cou ld prov ide eco­nomic, po­lit­ica l and se­cu­rit y guar­an­tees to North Ko­rea in de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion ta lks, sa id, Beiji ng-ba sed i nde­pen­dent pol it ica l com­men­ta­tor Hua Po.

“If the Korean Penin­sula de­clares it­self to be a nu­cle­ar­free zone, China can make a nu­clear se­cu­rity com­mit­ment to North Ko­rea,” he said.

As Py­ongyang’s ng’s only ma­jor ally, Kim is hop­ing ping Xi can push for re­lief f from the mul­ti­ple sets of sanc­tions im­posed ed on it over its weapons apons pro­grammes. The US wants them em t o re main i n place un­til i t g i v e s u p i t s arms, some­thing ng Py­ongyang has mad e n o p u b l i c prom­ise to do. .

“Nor th Ko­rea ore a i s look­ing for some­thing me­thing where . . . they y would be re­warded for or meet­ing cer­tain goals, als, rathe r than s a nct i ons be­ing lifted only nly after ‘CVID’ [com­plete, ver­i­fi­able and ir­re­versible de­struc­tion] of their nuc nu­clear fa­cil­i­ties, which is what wh the US is adamant on,” said Gra­ham Ong-Webb, Onga re­search fel­low at the S Ra Ra­jarat­nam School of o In­ter­na­tional S Stud­ies in Sin­gap Sin­ga­pore.

Acco Ac­cord­ing to the of of­fi­cial Xin­hua n news agency, X Xi said he h o p e s t h a t Nor t h Ko re a and th the US will “meet ea each other half­way” half­way”.

China is “much more p prag­matic con­cern­ing North Ko­rea’s de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion path pro­vid­ing they do not pro­voke or up­turn re­gional sta­bil­ity,” Bei­jing-based an­a­lyst Tom Fowdy said.

“If Wash­ing­ton will not give [Kim] eco­nomic con­ces­sions, China in a sub­tle way al­most cer­tainly will . . . al­beit with the ex­pec­ta­tion he does make progress and does not re­turn to bel­liger­ence.”

‘Great deal of mis­trust’

Kim’s grand­fa­ther Kim Il­sung was also adept at play­ing off Com­mu­nist ri­vals Bei­jing and Moscow against each other dur­ing the Cold War to ex­tract con­ces­sions from both.

Yet it ap­pears the over­tures so far have been one-way – after four vis­its to China, Xi has yet to visit Py­ongyang.

North Korean state me­dia re­ported on Thurs­day that Xi ac­cepted Kim’s in­vite to visit, but this was con­spic­u­ously ab­sent from Chi­nese me­dia re­ports.

“We’ve had an­other visit [by Kim], so why is it that Xi Jin­ping has not gone to Py­ongyang and what would it take in or­der for that visit to ac­tu­ally take place?” said Glaser of the CSIS.

“Both lead­ers see value in us­ing this re­la­tion­ship and their en­gage­ment for their own pur­poses, but my take is that there is still a great deal of mis­trust.”

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