Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

N Korea’s Kim, China’s Xi discussed how to ‘jointly steer’ denuclearisation talks

A vehicle in the motorcade of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Beijing China on Jan 9 2019 Xi Fetes Kim Jong-un with Lavish Birthday Banquet
Lloyd Bates | 11 January, 2019, 11:13

In this January 9, 2019, photo provided on January 10, 2019, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second left, talks with Chinese Communist Party's International Department head Song Tao, second right, in a train on the way home from China.

Moon spoke soon after Kim headed back to Pyongyang after a four-day trip to Beijing that included a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Relations between China and North Korea had deteriorated in recent years over Pyongyang's nuclear activities, but ties appear to have warmed, with Kim meeting Xi 3 times last year to pay his respects and keep him informed about developments.

At their first meeting in Singapore in June, Kim and Trump signed a vaguely worded document with Kim pledging to work towards the "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

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.

The timing of Kim's visit and the U.S.

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 US president's strategy of maximum pressure depends largely on cooperation from Xi.

"If the Korean Peninsula declares itself to be a nuclear-free zone, China can make a nuclear security commitment to North Korea", he said. "This means that China implemented the United Nations resolution well", he said. And while Beijing hasn't formally claimed to be ignoring enforcement, reports about "pockets of sanctions violations" are growing, he added.

In the New Year speech, Kim focused on North Korea's moribund economy, saying that improving people's lives was his top priority and tackling energy shortages was an urgent task.

"He wants to have his cake and eat it too", argues James Kim. China has also banned imports of textiles from the North, while several countries have an embargo on selling them luxury goods. North Korea's trade with China has been significantly reduced in 2018 compared to the year before. "We have maintained close communication and shared information", he added.

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Xi was quoted by Xinhua as saying that China supports the U.S. -China negotiations were extended another day to Wednesday.

Kim's visit also takes place amid trade talks between Washington and Beijing.

China's President Xi Jinping and President Donald Trump attend a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on November 9, 2017. The two sides have a truce that expires March 1. The factory is run by Tong Ren Tang, the country's largest producer of traditional Oriental medicine.

However, a meeting between Mr Pompeo and senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol has yet to be rescheduled after an abrupt cancellation in November.

Instead, it may be more fruitful to look at what Pyongyang has actually done so far in the wake of the Singapore summit.

But progress has since stalled with Pyongyang and Washington - which stations 28,500 troops in South Korea - disagreeing over what that means.

North Korea has not conducted any test launches or detonations in more than a year but has shown little intention of abandoning the nuclear programmes.

But since North Korea's rapprochement with South Korea and the U.S., Kim and Xi have thawed their frosty relationship, as each wants to negotiate with Trump on a key topic: Kim on denuclearization and Xi on trade.

"That seems to be fairly clear and out in the open now".

"(China) does not think their interests would be threatened by better inter-Korean relations, whereas the possibility of a North Korean alignment with the United States, even potentially, against China, I think it's Beijing's nightmare", Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told AFP. And after rallying support for sanctions relief in Beijing, Kim will be hoping to use that leverage to continue his success at a second meeting with Trump.

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