North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has met China’s Xi Jinping for the first time since historic intra-Korean talks and pledged to shut down its nuclear weapons program. It is Kim’s second visit to China in a several weeks.
“Xi held talks with Kim and hosted a welcome banquet for him,” China’s state-run Xinhua agency reported on Tuesday. Chinese state media have confirmed that the leaders shared a “cordial and friendly atmosphere” during the talks and a luncheon in the Chinese city of Dalian.
The duo discussed bilateral relations between Beijing and Pyongyang as well as “issues of common concern.”
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) May 8, 2018
Kim said that there would be “no need” for North Korea to be a nuclear state as soon as “relevant parties abolish their hostile policies and remove security threats.”
It is Kim’s second trip to neighboring China since March, when he met Xi during his first foreign trip since taking office. After the talks, Kim indicated that Pyongyang may be ready for denuclearization.
The surprise visit came ahead of landmark talks between Pyongyang and Seoul in the ‘peace village’ of Panmunjom on April 27. At that time, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in signed a declaration vowing denuclearization, a halt to hostile acts, and a push for joint talks with the US and China.
Beijing hailed the agreement that ends “the state of war” and said it “fully supports” North Korea’s commitment. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi paid a rare visit to Pyongyang last week.
The Korean War pitted not just the North versus the South, but the US-led international coalition against China. The bloody stalemate was frozen by an armistice in 1953, but the war never officially ended.
Tensions have been mounting on the Korean Peninsula until recently, with the North conducting nuclear and missile tests, citing a threat to its security from outside, particularly US war games in the region. While Beijing and Moscow have called for a diplomatic approach, Washington continued its pressure and even threatened Pyongyang with military action.
Despite Trump toning down the bellicose rhetoric, he maintains the US is not going to make any concessions until North Korea makes even more of its own.
Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, even said that North Korea’s denuclearization may follow the Libya model, in which the late leader, Muammar Gaddafi, got rid of the nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief in 2003. Eight years after that, NATO aided a rebellion that ended in Gaddafi’s overthrow and death, and Libya in chaos.