Xi, Kim affirm traditional friendship

BEIJING/SEOUL – China said on Wednesday it won a pledge from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to denuclearise the Korean peninsula during a meeting with President Xi Jinping, who pledged in return that China would uphold its friendship with its isolated neighbour.

After two days of speculation, China announced on Wednesday that Mr Kim had visited Beijing and met Mr Xi during what the official Xinhua news agency called an unofficial visit from Sunday to Wednesday.

The trip was Mr Kim’s first known journey abroad since he assumed power in 2011 and is believed by analysts to serve as preparation for upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States.

Beijing has traditionally been the closest ally of secretive North Korea, but ties have been frayed by North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and China’s backing of tough UN sanctions in response.

Xinhua cited Mr Kim as telling Mr Xi that the situation on the Korean peninsula is starting to improve because North Korea has taken the initiative to ease tensions and put forward proposals for peace talks.

“It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearisation on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim II Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong II,” Mr Kim said, according to Xinhua.

North Korea is willing to talk with the United States and hold a summit between the two countries, he said.

“The issue of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realisation of peace,” Mr Kim said.

MR Xi told Mr Kim in return that both sides had stated repeatedly that their traditional friendship should be passed on and developed better.

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