BEIJING, Dec 7 — Chinese President Xi Jinping told North Korea’s foreign minister today that he hoped Pyongyang and Washington will address each other’s concerns so peace talks on the Korean peninsula “continue to make positive progress”.
Xi met with Ri Yong Ho in Beijing as denuclearisation talks have made little progress since a historic June summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Xi “hopes that both North Korea and the United States can come together, and will take care of each other’s legitimate concerns so that the process of peace talks on the Korean peninsula continue to make positive progress,” according to the official Xinhua news agency.
China is a key player in the diplomatic shuffle as it is North Korea’s main diplomatic ally and trade partner.
“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,” said Xi.
For his part, Ri said North Korea “remains committed to the denuclearisation of the peninsula,” according to Xinhua.
Ri also met Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
“China and North Korea should continue to push the situation on the peninsula to develop positively towards denuclearisation,” Wang said, according to a foreign ministry statement.
“China hopes that the DPRK and the United States will maintain dialogue and balance their concerns and achieve the goals set by the DPRK-US Joint Statement,” it said, referring to a text agreed by Trump and Kim in June.
Talks on nuclear disarmament on the Korean peninsula between the US and North Korea have stalled in recent months, with Washington pushing to maintain sanctions until its “final, fully verified denuclearisation” and Pyongyang condemning US demands as “gangster-like.”
In June, Trump and Kim opened up a face-to-face dialogue in Singapore after months of trading military threats and pointed barbs.
The two leaders signed a vaguely worded agreement on denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, but progress has since stalled as Washington and Pyongyang spar over the meaning of the document.
North Korea has taken few concrete steps to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
Trump said Saturday he hoped to hold a second summit with Kim in early 2019. Xi and Trump discussed North Korea at the G20 summit in Argentina last weekend.
Ri’s visit to Beijing marked his fifth meeting with Wang this year, as relations between China and North Korea have warmed following a chill.
Despite their Cold War-era alliance, China has supported a series of United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programmes. — AFP