China's Xi hopes United States, N. Korea will 'meet halfway'

China's Xi hopes United States, N. Korea will 'meet halfway'

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed an expected US-North Korea summit in talks in Beijing on Tuesday, Yonhap news agency said, days after Kim warned he may take an alternative path if the United States does not ease sanctions.

Experts think Kim's China trip was meant to discuss strategies with his closest ally ahead of a possible summit with Trump, adding that it also appears aimed at strengthening the North's negotiating leverage by demonstrating its strong ties with Beijing. For Xi, whose country provides a lifeline to North Korea's anemic economy, the meeting with Kim reminds Trump that China's co-operation will make any nuclear deal more effective.

South Korean Ambassador to the United States Cho Yoon-je told reporters in Washington Tuesday that "back-channel talks" are taking place between Pyongyang and Washington, adding that "because of the resoluteness of President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un, we may be able to look forward to preparatory talks for a North-U.S. summit in the near future". "Judging from the delegation lineup, the mission appears to place emphasis on North Korea's continuing diplomatic outreach and nuclear and security issues", Aoki said.

"It's no secret China has always wanted to be a part of this talk", said James Kim, director at the the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in South Korea's capital, Seoul. Xi then threw a lavish banquet for Kim to celebrate his birthday, but state-run CCTV made no mention of Kim's visit.

China benefits greatly from having a stable North Korea on their border as a buffer zone between them and the more western oriented South Korea.

Kim spent around half an hour touring a pharmaceutical factory operated by Tong Ren Tang, the largest producer of traditional Chinese medicinal products.

In an interview with CNBC on Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised China's support for resolving the North Korean crisis and said he did not think the US trade dispute with China would affect this.

Seoul would cooperate with the USA and worldwide community to seek to "resolve" the issue of sanctions "as soon as possible", Moon said.




Kim's grandfather Kim Il Sung was also adept at playing off Communist rivals Beijing and Moscow against each other during the Cold War to extract concessions from both.

China is Kim Jong-un' major supporter and a principal trade collaborator.

Beijing stands ready to "play a positive and constructive role in maintaining peace and stability and realising denuclearisation on the peninsula and lasting peace and stability in the region", it cited him as saying.

China's official Xinhua news agency also said Pyongyang's "legitimate concerns" must be taken seriously in order to achieve a comprehensive resolution on the Korean peninsula.

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed hope that interested parties will provide assistance in the process of denuclearlization on the Korean Peninsula.

"The Sino-US trade negotiations are a matter between China and the US", he said.

Each of the previous meetings between Kim and Xi have come shortly before or after summits the North Korean leader has held with either Trump or the South's President Moon Jae-in.

Recently, China may be doing more of the latter, says James Kim, pointing to ongoing rumours of "de facto loosening of sanctions implementation in China".

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