N. Korea Reaf­firms Com­mit­ment To De­nu­cle­ariza­tion


BEI­JING (Reuters) - North Korea’s com­mit­ment to de­nu­cle­ariza­tion and main­tain­ing peace and sta­bil­ity on the Korean penin­sula are un­changed, its for­eign minister, Ri Yong Ho, said on Fri­day, at a meet­ing in Bei­jing with the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment’s top diplo­mat, Wang Yi.

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. Ri added that North Korea hoped to build “re­quired mu­tual trust” with the United States and “move in the same di­rec­tion”, the Chi­nese for­eign min­istry said in a state­ment on the meet­ing of the two of­fi­cials.

At a land­mark June sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pledged to work to­wards de­nu­cle­ariza­tion, but the pact was sketchy and talks since have made lit­tle head­way.

Wang said China and North Korea should main­tain “high-level ex­changes” to en­sure the suc­cess­ful out­come of events to mark the 70th an­niver­sary of their diplo­matic ties next year. “China and North Korea must con­tinue to push the penin­sula to­ward the di­rec­tion of de­nu­cle­ariza­tion,” the min­istry cited Wang as say­ing.

Ri, who is due to leave China on Satur­day, vis­ited Syria ear­lier this week.

Kim has vis­ited China three times this year for meet­ings with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping. Diplo­matic sources say Xi will prob­a­bly go to North Korea at some point soon. Xi in­tends to visit North Korea next year af­ter re­ceiv­ing an in­vi­ta­tion from Kim, South Korea said last month, 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.

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