Xi urges N Korea, US to meet half­way

Gulf Times - - ASIA/AUSTRALASIA -

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping yes­ter­day 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 neigh­bour’s nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grammes.

Ties have warmed in the last year as Py­ongyang’s re­la­tions with both Seoul and Wash­ing­ton have also im­proved. At a land­mark June sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore, the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, and US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pledged to work to­wards de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion, 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 co-or­di­na­tion of po­si­tions be­tween China and North Korea are still ex­tremely es­sen­tial.”

The North’s for­eign min­is­ter, Ri Yong Ho, said its com­mit­ment to de­nu­cle­ari­sa­tion 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.

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