Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) on Tuesday told his North Korean counterpart, Ri Yong-ho, that Beijing supports Pyongyang’s planned summits with South Korea and the US.
China appreciates North Korea’s efforts to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the ministry cited Wang, who is also a Chinese state councilor, as telling Ri at a meeting in Beijing.
The ministry described Ri as saying that North Korea would maintain close strategic communications with China as outlined at last week’s surprise meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Kim’s visit to China made clear that Beijing — North Korea’s only major ally and chief provider of energy and trade that keeps the nation’s broken economy afloat — will have a major role in any effort to rein in the North’s nuclear program.
Earlier on Tuesday, Wang told reporters that China hoped a planned meeting between North Korea and the US would be able to avoid “disruptive factors” and stick to the pursuit of dialogue between Kim and US President Donald Trump.
“Of course, historical experience tells us that when there is an easing in the situation on the peninsula and hopes for peace and dialogue appear, there will often be disturbances of this or that kind,” Wang said at a briefing with reporters following a meeting with his Swiss counterpart, Ignazio Cassis.
“We call on all parties to maintain their determination, eliminate interference and go along in the right direction of dialogue and negotiation,” Wang said.
North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency said Ri led a government delegation that left Pyongyang on Tuesday to take part in a ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement to be held in Azerbaijan and visit Russia.
The meetings between China and North Korea appear aimed at improving both nations’ positions ahead of Kim’s anticipated meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Trump in the coming weeks.
A key objective for Beijing is to reassert its relevance to the talks, from which it has been excluded. China has appeared increasingly shut out as its relations with North Korea deteriorated and Pyongyang reached out to Seoul and Washington.
Ties in recent months have frayed as China supported tougher UN sanctions on North Korea and suspended coal and iron ore imports.
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