North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Beijing on Tuesday at the start of a four-day visit, in what’s likely an effort to coordinate with his only major ally ahead of an expected second summit with US President Donald Trump. (Jan. 8)
SEOUL – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged to pursue a second summit with President Donald Trump “to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community,” Chinese state media reported on Thursday.
Kim also reiterated his commitment to denuclearization, according to the report by Xinhua News Agency, which followed his meeting this week with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“The DPRK will continue sticking to the stance of denuclearization and resolving the Korean Peninsula issue through dialogue and consultation,” Xinhua quoted Kim as saying. (The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea).
The report comes as momentum appears to be building toward another meeting between Trump and Kim. Last weekend, Trump said that negotiations were already underway for a location for their summit, saying that the result would be announced “in the not-too-distant future.”
Also Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in predicted that a second North Korea-U.S. summit would “take place soon.”
He made the remark during a major policy address for the upcoming year, adding that Kim would be making a visit to Seoul and that the meetings would be “turning points that will firmly solidify peace on the Korean Peninsula.”
Kim’s trip to Beijing this week is seen by some observers as another signal that a summit may be imminent. The North Korean leader visited China before and after his first summit with Trump, held last June in Singapore.
China remains North Korea’s closest ally and most important trading partner, accounting for 90 percent of its exports since 2000, according to a report from the Korea Development Institute.
Xi added support to the North Korea-U.S. meeting, saying that China hopes the countries will “meet each other halfway,” according to the Xinhua report.
“Political settlement of the (Korean) Peninsula issue faces a rare historic opportunity,” Xi said during Kim’s two-day visit to Beijing.
The trip came during the North Korean dictator’s 36th birthday, which was celebrated at a banquet with the Chinese president on Tuesday, according to Xinhua. Kim visited a pharmaceutical plant that produces Chinese traditional medicine before he returned to North Korea by private train on Wednesday.
South Korean newspapers have reported this week that the communist nation of Vietnam is being considered as a site to host the next Trump-Kim summit.
The Munhwa Ilbo reported that officials from the U.S. and North Korea have already met in Hanoi to discuss scheduling the meeting, while the Korea Herald reported that Vietnam is looking to host the summit in the coastal city of Danang.
A second Trump-Kim summit would seek to push forward a diplomatic process that has stalled out since their June meeting in Singapore.
That meeting produced a declaration stating that North Korea would work toward a “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” but details on timing and the meaning of the agreement remain vague.
Pyongyang continues to look for relief from punishing international sanctions while Washington is holding out for complete denuclearization first, sticking to its “maximum pressure” strategy on the economic and diplomatic fronts.
Trump reiterated this weekend that sanctions would remain “in full force” until North Korea provided “very positive proof” of results.
North Korea didn’t launch any missiles or test any nuclear weapons in 2018 and Pyongyang has made a gesture of dismantling nuclear and missile engine sites. But research shows that the communist state continues to develop its ballistic weapons program at several locations.
A report released on Wednesday by North Korea analysis website 38 North said that the country’s Yongbyon nuclear facility remains operational and well-maintained but does not appear to be currently in use. The site produces the fissile material used as fuel for nuclear weapons.
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