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Kim tells Xi he’ll be patient with Trump

Chinese president makes plain his desire to play a bigger role

June 22,2019
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping watch a mass gymnastic performance at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang Thursday evening. Xi concluded a two-day state trip to Pyongyang and fifth summit with Kim Friday. [XINHUA/YONHAP]
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said he was “willing to stay patient” in denuclearization talks with the United States but blamed Washington for negotiations failing so far.

Those remarks were shared with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday afternoon during a bilateral summit in Pyongyang, according to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency. Xi arrived in the North Korean capital earlier that day for a two-day state visit.

“Kim said that over the past year, the DPRK has taken many active measures to avoid tensions and control the situation on the Korean Peninsula,” read an English version of the Xinhua report, “but has not received positive responses from the party concerned, which the DPRK does not want to see.” DPRK is the acronym of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The DPRK is willing to stay patient, and hopes that the relevant party will work with the DPRK to seek solutions that accommodate each other’s legitimate concerns and push for results from the dialogue process,” the Xinhua report continued, without specifying who or what Kim was referring to by the “party.”

Xinhua mentioned that the two leaders agreed that “a political settlement of the nuclear issue” on the Korean Peninsula has been “a popular aspiration and an inevitable trend,” adding Xi “reaffirmed China’s support for efforts to push forward” that political settlement process and “build up conditions for its resolution.”

Local North Korea analysts saw a hint of Xi wanting to get more involved in peninsular affairs by adopting a more proactive stance in the denuclearization talks.

North Korea’s state media ran numerous reports on the Xi-Kim summit Thursday but did not mention Kim’s vow to maintain patience in the denuclearization talks with Washington.

An English version of a report published by the regime’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Xi and Kim exchanged views on peninsula affairs and vowed to develop bilateral relations “now that the serious and complicated changes are happening in international and regional situations.”

A Xinhua news report mentioned similar remarks, saying that in the face of the “profound and complex changes” in the global and regional landscapes, Xi said both countries should strengthen high-level contact.

Xi arrived at Pyongyang International Airport on Thursday morning on his personal plane to start his first visit to North Korea as the Chinese president. Xi last visited the North 11 years ago in June 2008 as China’s vice president. This was the first visit by a Chinese head of state in 14 years following former Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Pyongyang in October 2005.

Kim, who greeted Xi at the airport with other top North Korean officials, rode in an open-top limousine with the Chinese president on Ryomyong Street to reach the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, cheered along the way by hordes of North Koreans. North Korean media reported that “more than 250,000 people flocked to the streets” of Pyongyang to welcome Xi.

The duo arrived at the Kumsusan State Guest House, where the summit was held, said the North’s media. The Kumsusan State Guest House was never mentioned in North Korea’s official media before, spurring local speculation that the guest house could be a new one, or a new name for the Paekhwawon Guest House after it was renovated.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in lodged at Paekhwawon when he visited North Korea last September.

After the summit, Kim threw a banquet for Xi and they watched a group gymnastics performance at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang.

Without mentioning the time of the visit, the North’s KCNA said Xi and Kim also visited the headquarters of the Workers’ Party’s Central Committee on Thursday afternoon, where they had a photo session with members of the Central Committee’s powerful Political Bureau. The building is where Kim’s office is known to be.

Xi left North Korea on Friday at around 3:30 p.m.

South Korea’s former Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun analyzed Thursday’s summit at a local forum and said Seoul will have to devise “new measures” for solving North Korea’s nuclear crisis after Xi’s visit to Pyongyang, stressing that what used to be a three-party system involving the United States and both Koreas has turned into a four-party system including China.

Koh Yoo-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University, told the JoongAng Ilbo there was a higher chance now after the Xi-Kim summit that China would try to play a larger role in the nuclear talks between the United States and the North.

Xi is set to hold talks with U.S. President Donald Trump and Moon next week on the sidelines of a Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Osaka, Japan. Trump will visit Seoul following the G-20 to hold a bilateral summit with Moon.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]



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