China’s Xi urges N. Korea, US to meet halfway
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday told North Korea’s foreign minister that he hoped North Korea and the United States could meet each other halfway and address each other’s reasonable concerns, China’s Foreign Ministry said.
China is the North’s most important economic and diplomatic backer, despite anger over its neighbor’s nuclear and missile programs. Ties have warmed in the last year as Pyongyang’s relations with both Seoul and Washington have also improved, Reuters wrote.
At a landmark June summit in Singapore, the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and US President Donald Trump pledged to work towards denuclearization, but the pact was sketchy and talks since have made little headway.
Xi “hoped North Korea and the United States meet each other halfway and address each other’s reasonable concerns, allowing positive progress on the peninsula’s nuclear talks,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
In comments made before reporters, Xi added, “The international and regional situation, as well as the situation on the Korean peninsula, remains in flux, so timely exchanges and the coordination of positions between China and North Korea are still extremely essential.”
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said its commitment to denuclearization and safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean peninsula were unchanged, the Foreign Ministry added.
Meeting the Chinese government’s top diplomat Wang Yi earlier, Ri said North Korea hoped to build “required mutual trust” with the United States and “move in the same direction”, it said.
Ri, who is due to leave China on Saturday, visited Syria this week.
Kim has visited China three times this year to meet Xi. Diplomatic sources say Xi will probably go to North Korea at some point soon.
Last month, South Korea said Xi intended to visit North Korea next year at Kim’s invitation, which would make Xi the first Chinese leader to do so since 2005.
Last weekend, Trump said he was likely to meet Kim again in January or February, with three possible sites being considered for their second meeting.
The two countries have held talks over a second meeting after the unprecedented June summit, Reuters reported in October, citing a senior official. German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday offered a staunch defense of her moderate course during 18 years as party leader, as her Christian Democratic Union chose between a loyal deputy and a longtime rival to succeed her.
Accepting a lengthy standing ovation from delegates, many tearful and holding “Thanks, boss” placards aloft, a visibly moved Merkel said the party had won four national elections under her by holding fast to its principles, AFP reported.
“In difficult times we shouldn’t forget our Christian and democratic stance,” she said.
Pointing to the rise of populism worldwide and what she called a breakdown of shared Western values, Merkel said the order she had championed was at risk.
“Whether it’s the rejection of multilateralism, the return to nationalism, the reduction of international cooperation to deal-making or threatened trade wars... hybrid warfare, destabilization of societies with fake news or the future of our EU – we Christian Democrats must show in the face of all these challenges what we’ve got,” she said.
The two main candidates, CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-karrenbauer, known as AKK, and corporate lawyer Friedrich Merz are locked in a battle over whether to embrace or break with the veteran chancellor’s legacy.
A third contender, Health Minister Jens Spahn, 38, an outspoken critic of Merkel’s 2015 decision to welcome more than one million asylum seekers to Germany, is running a distant third.
Merkel surprised the country and her party in late October when she announced she would not seek reelection as CDU leader at the party conference in Hamburg after a series of poll setbacks rooted in controversy over her liberal refugee policy.
The contest’s outcome is expected to be crucial in deciding whether the influential leader can realize her stated goal of completing her fourth term in 2021 and then leaving politics.
“I hope we emerge from this party conference well-equipped, motivated and united,” Merkel said. “I am confident we will succeed.”
Merkel has led Germany since 2005, and moved her party steadily toward the political centre. More generous family leave, an exit from nuclear power and an end to military conscription are among her signature policies.