Wed, May 09, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Second set of Kim-Xi talks announced

DALIAN DALLIANCE:The North Korean leader talked to the Chinese president on Monday and yesterday about his denuclearization and economic development plans

Bloomberg

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping talk in Dalian, China, in a photograph released yesterday by Xinhua news agency, which said it was taken either on Monday or yesterday.

Photo: AP / Xinhua news agency

Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the port city of Dalian over the past two days, the second meeting between top officials of the allies in less than two months.

The summit came after Kim’s surprise two-day visit to Beijing in late March, his first known trip abroad since taking power in 2011. The most recent talks follow Kim’s meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27 and an expected one with US President Donald Trump, possibly next month.

Kim’s meetings with Xi in quick succession show that ties are improving rapidly as North Korea seeks talks over its nuclear program.

The neighbors had grown apart last year after China backed UN sanctions crimping North Korea’s energy imports and sources of foreign cash to pressure it to halt its nuclear and missile tests.

Now China and North Korea’s interests are becoming more aligned. North Korea needs China to boost its economy, while Xi can use closer ties with Kim as leverage in his talks with Trump about trade, according to Zhu Feng (朱鋒), professor of international relations at Nanjing University.

“China is trying to exert its influence,” Zhu said. “If the United States continues to adopt a hostile attitude against China, then China may readjust its North Korea policy.”

Kim expressed the hope that North Korea and the US would “build mutual trust” and “take phased and synchronous measures in a responsible manner” to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, Xinhua news agency reported.

“As long as relevant parties eliminate the hostile policy and security threats against North Korea, North Korea does not need to have nuclear weapons, and denuclearization is achievable,” Xinhua quoted Kim as saying.

Kim said he was very pleased his country’s relationship with China had reached a high point, the North’s Korean Central News Agency said, confirming the meeting with Xi.

The Chinese president said “positive progress” had been made since the two leaders first met, adding: “I feel happy about it,”

In related news, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun yesterday published an interview with Moon, who urged Japan to begin talks with the North to normalize relations between them.

“If Japan-North Korea relations are normalized, that would greatly contribute to peace and security in Northeast Asia beyond the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said in written answers to questions submitted by the newspaper.

During his summit with Kim, the North’s leader said he was “ready to have a dialogue with Japan anytime,” Moon said.

There was no immediate comment from the Japanese government, which has called Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs the toughest security threat facing Japan since World War II.

Moon’s interview was conducted ahead of a summit today between Moon, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) in Tokyo.

North Korea was expected to be high on the agenda, but a Chinese diplomat said last week the talks were about regional cooperation and not focused on the Korean Peninsula.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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