This photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency on January 10, 2019 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (L) and China's President Xi Jinping shaking hands during a welcome ceremony in Beijing's Great Hall of the People on January 8, 2019.
LI Xueren / XINHUA / AFP
Xi told Kim China hopes US, N. Korea will 'meet halfway': Xinhua
Laurent Thomet (Agence France-Presse) - January 10, 2019 - 9:33am

BEIJING, China — Chinese President Xi Jinping told Kim Jong Un the Korean peninsula faces a "rare historic opportunity" as he backed the North Korean leader's planned denuclearisation summit with US President Donald Trump, at which he hopes the pair will "meet each other halfway", state media reported Thursday.

The two allies held two days of talks in Beijing this week seen as a strategy session as Kim prepares for his second meeting with Trump, with denuclearisation talks making little progress since the first historic US-North Korean summit.

Kim's fourth visit to China in the past year shows that Beijing -- the North's sole major ally -- retains a vital role in the diplomatic shuffle despite past tensions between the Cold War-era allies.

"Political settlement of the Korean peninsula issue faces a rare historic opportunity," Xi said, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The Chinese leader said "major progress" was made last year to reach a political solution with joint efforts from China, North Korea and other nations, and the international community expects dialogue to continue.

Discussions between the US and North Korea over Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal have stalled since Kim and Trump's high-profile first summit in Singapore in June where they issued a vaguely worded declaration about denuclearisation.

The US insists that UN sanctions must remain in place until North Korea gives up its weapons, while Pyongyang wants them immediately eased.

China -- North Korea's sole major ally and main trade partner -- also wants the sanctions to be relaxed.

China "supports the DPRK and the United States holding summits and achieving results, and supports relevant parties resolving their respective legitimate concerns through dialogue", Xi said, using the initials of North Korea's official name.

"China hopes that the DPRK and the United States will meet each other halfway," Xi said.

He added that China stands ready to play a "positive and constructive role" to maintain peace and stability and achieve denuclearisation on the peninsula.

For his part, Kim said North Korea "will continue sticking to the stance of denuclearisation and resolving the Korean peninsula issue through dialogue and consultation", Xinhua reported.

The North, Kim said, will "make efforts for the second summit between DPRK and US leaders to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community".

Trump said Sunday that the United States and North Korea are negotiating the location of their next summit.

In a New Year speech, Kim warned that Pyongyang may change its approach to nuclear talks if Washington persists with sanctions.

Birthday banquet

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 three times last year, ensuring that his ally remained informed about his dealings with the United States and South Korea.

Xi greeted Kim at Beijing's ornate Great Hall of the People on Tuesday -- believed to be the North Korean leader's birthday.

Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan hosted a welcome banquet for Kim and his wife Ri Sol Ju and they watched an art performance together, according to Xinhua.

Kim visited a pharmaceutical plant that makes traditional Chinese medicine on Wednesday and met Xi again for lunch at a hotel before heading back to North Korea by train.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: October 2, 2019 - 7:32am

South Korean officials were briefing the White House Thursday on the outcome of their pathfinding meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Seoul has already publicized that North Korea offered talks with the United States on denuclearization and normalizing ties, a potential diplomatic opening after a year of escalating tensions over the North's nuclear and missile tests. The rival Koreas also agreed to hold a leadership summit in late April.

Top Trump administration officials were getting a chance to hear firsthand from South Korean national security director, Chung Eui-yong, who led the delegation that went to Pyongyang. — Associated Press

October 2, 2019 - 7:32am

A North Korean projectile appears to have breached Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone, Tokyo says.

North Korea on Wednesday fires "projectiles" toward the sea, South Korea's military earlier said, a day after Pyongyang signalled a resumption of nuclear talks with the US.

"North Korea fired unidentified projectiles from Wonsan ... towards the East Sea (Sea of Japan) this morning," the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said without providing further details.

"Our military is monitoring the situation for additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture," the JCS said in a statement.

The launch came a day after the North's Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said that Pyongyang had agreed to hold working-level talks with Washington later this week. -- Agence France-Presse

August 11, 2019 - 1:12pm

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a "new weapon" test, state media reports, the latest in a series of launches that US President Donald Trump has played down as Washington seeks to restart nuclear talks with Pyongyang.

The report carried by the Korean Central News Agency followed Trump's comments that Kim had expressed a willingness to meet once the US-South Korean exercises are over and apologized for the slew of missile tests.

Saturday's launch was the North's fifth test in two weeks as it protests the annual military drills under way between Seoul and Washington which always infuriates Pyongyang. Defense officials in Seoul said Pyongyang fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles Saturday, flying 400 kilometers (250 miles) before splashing down in the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan. — Agence France-Presse

August 2, 2019 - 8:02am

North Korea carried out its third missile test in eight days Friday, according to the South's military, but US President Donald Trump says he has "no problem" with the spate of launches by Pyongyang.

The nuclear-armed North is barred from ballistic missile tests under UN resolutions and its actions have drawn condemnation from European members of the Security Council but a comparatively sanguine response from Trump, who has met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un three times, generating global headlines on each occasion.

"I have no problem, we'll see what happens but short range (missiles) are very standard," Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a rally in Ohio. — Agence France-Presse

August 1, 2019 - 7:50am

South Korea's military said Wednesday that two ballistic missiles had been fired from the Wonsan area on North Korea's east coast.

Kim "repeatedly expressed satisfaction over the result of the test-fire," and "highly appreciated" the national defense science and munitions industry personnel who have "made another wonderful Korean-style multiple launch rocket system," KCNA said.

While there was little further detail on the weapons, the guided rockets "will play a main role in ground military operations," KCNA said.

The North is banned from ballistic missile launches under UN Security Council resolutions, but Wednesday's firings were the second such in less than a week, despite a meeting between leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump last month.

Pyongyang and Washington are engaged in a long-running diplomatic process over the North's nuclear and missile programmes that has seen three high-profile encounters between their leaders in the space of a year. — Agence France-Presse

May 9, 2019 - 6:54pm

Weapons fired by North Korea Thursday appeared to be two separate missiles, the South's military says, in what was Pyongyang's second launch in less than a week.

The North "fired what appeared to be two short-range missiles" from North Pyongan province, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, adding they flew 270 and 420 kilometers and the South Korean and US militaries were jointly analyzing them. -- Agence France-Presse

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