China’s Xi Meets North Korea Leader, Hopes Singapore Summit Agreements Will Be Implemented

China’s Xi Meets North Korea Leader, Hopes Singapore Summit Agreements Will Be Implemented

Tuesday, 19 June, 2018 - 17:15
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held talks on Tuesday with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who hoped that the agreements reached during last week’s historic summit between Washington and Pyongyang in Singapore would be implemented.

Kim was in Beijing on Tuesday to brief Xi on the landmark meeting he held with US President Donald Trump a week ago. His visit to China, the third since March, underscores Beijing's efforts to remain at the center of fast-moving nuclear diplomacy.

Kim "felt thanks for and highly praised China's promotion of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and its important role in protecting the peninsula's peace and stability," state broadcaster CCTV said.

North Korea "hopes to work with China and other concerned parties to promote and establish a solid, long-lasting peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula and make joint efforts to achieve a lasting peace on the peninsula."

Beijing is trying to strengthen its role as a mediator between the US and the North, where it claims compelling security and economic interests.

The North's leader, who is believed to have landed in the Chinese capital Tuesday morning, was greeted with a military honor guard at the ornate Great Hall of the People, as the Cold War-era allies repair ties that worsened when Pyongyang tested nuclear weapons and Beijing backed UN sanctions.

Trump and Kim pledged last week to "work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula".

In return, Trump made the shock announcement that he would stop joint military drills with South Korea, long seen as a provocation by Pyongyang and Beijing. The US and South Korean militaries confirmed Tuesday they have called off a major joint exercise.

Kim told Xi his summit with Trump "achieved results that are in line with the interests of all parties and the expectations of the international communities," according to CCTV.

"If the two parties can solidly implement the summit's consensus step by step, it will open a new, important phase of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

The United States relies on China to enforce UN economic sanctions against the North, giving Beijing potential leverage in its looming trade war with Washington.

Xi "is exerting a lot of influence from behind the scenes," said Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"I expect they will talk about the path going forward and where priorities should lie," Glaser said.

Those priorities, from China's perspective, would be to ensure that Beijing is included in any peace treaty talks and in creating an environment on the Korean Peninsula that will make it unnecessary for US troops to remain.

At a regularly scheduled briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Tuesday that Beijing supported Russia's calls last week for unilateral sanctions on North Korea — ones that aren't imposed within the United Nations framework — to be canceled immediately.

"China always stands against the so-called unilateral sanctions outside the Security Council framework. This position is very clear and we believe sanctions themselves are not the end," Geng said.

While Beijing and Moscow have supported UN restrictions, they bristle at Washington imposing sanctions on its own to pressure North Korea.

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