Kim meets Xi again before wrapping up two-day China visit

June 20, 2018

BEIJING, June 20 (Yonhap) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met again with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday before he wrapped up a two-day visit to Beijing, China’s state media reported.

During his third visit to China in less than three months, Kim had two rounds of meetings with Xi to discuss Pyongyang-Beijing relations and the denuclearization issue.

“The two leaders had an in-depth conversation over tea in a cordial and friendly atmosphere” at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, Xinhua news agency said.

Citing Kim’s third visit, Xi said that the two sides “created a new history of high-level exchanges” and that such joint efforts will help bring peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula.

In response, Kim stressed that North Korea and China are “as close and friendly as family,” and expressed thanks to his counterpart for all the support.

He vowed to work with China “to upgrade bilateral ties to a new high, and play their due roles in safeguarding world and regional peace and stability,” according to the report.

The state media said the meeting was joined by their wives — Peng Liyuan and Ri Sol-ju.

Kim headed back to Pyongyang on his private jet, called Chammae-1, which took off from the Beijing international airport at around 5 p.m., according to informed sources.

Earlier in the day, the North’s Korean Central News Agency reported that, during their earlier meeting Tuesday, Xi expressed strong support for denuclearization efforts and promised to continue to play a “constructive role” in the process.

Kim’s latest trip to China came a week after Kim held a historic summit meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore, in which he affirmed his commitment to denuclearization in return for security guarantees and “new” bilateral relations between Pyongyang and Washington.

It was seen as an attempt to consolidate its ties with its longtime ally before launching high-level talks to discuss how to get rid of its nuclear weapons. Some say that it might be intended to enlist support for easing economic sanctions imposed on its regime.

Xinhua said that, on the second day of his trip, Kim visited a national agricultural technology innovation park under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences as well as the Beijing rail traffic control center.

Earlier in the day, two VIP sedans and other vehicles presumed to be carrying Kim and his delegation were seen leaving the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. A motorcade was later spotted entering the agricultural research center.

“It appears that Kim and his delegation visited the farming science center,” a source said. “This might reflect the North’s increasing interest in farming reform.”

It is said to be the same facility that a group of North Korean officials led by Pak Thae-song, vice chairman of its Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, had toured during their trip to China in May.

The North has placed more emphasis on bolstering its fragile economy in a departure from Kim’s signature “byongjin” policy of seeking both nuclear and economic development, which was adopted at the WPK’s meeting in March 2013.