Pyongyang invites China leaders to major event

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Pyongyang invites China leaders to major event

Pyongyang invited Chinese leaders to its national event to mark the 60th anniversary of the cease-fire treaty that halted the Korean War, but Beijing hasn’t responded clearly, a Japanese newspaper said.

Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun reported yesterday, citing several diplomatic sources in Beijing, that when North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s special envoy Choe Ryong-hae visited Beijing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week, he reportedly asked top Chinese officials, including Xi, to visit North Korea and join their commemoration event for the armistice agreement that halted the 1950-53 Korean War, on July 27.

But the “top Chinese leadership” didn’t give a definite answer to the invitation, the newspaper said.

“The top [Chinese] leadership that North Korea invited indicates President Xi Jinping or Premier Li Keqiang,” the paper said.

“Although the local Chinese media says Choe ‘was eager to restart the six-party talks,’ but in fact, the core purpose of his trip was to invite the Chinese leadership to the upcoming anniversary event in order to cope with pressure from Seoul, Washington and Tokyo. He also requested food aid [from China].”

Vice Marshal Choe, a close confidant of North Korean leader Kim and second-highest military official in the regime, made the first high-level, fence-mending visit to Beijing and met with Chinese President Xi on the last day of the three-day trip last week.

During the meeting with Choe, Xi reportedly stressed that North Korea should give up its nuclear weapons program.

Choe told Xi that North Korea is willing to return to all types of negotiations, including the so-called six-party talks.

However, on Tuesday, the Rodong Sinmun, an official newspaper of the North’s ruling party, said the regime had no plans for denuclearization as it feels continuous nuclear threats from Washington.

“China will pressure North Korea to have dialogue [with the outside world], in exchange for its participation in the anniversary event,” the paper said.

Ahead of the anniversary, Kim is reportedly directing officials to choreograph a full-scale event, including a military parade, “larger than that of the enemy’s,” the newspaper said.

The paper analyzed that the reason why Choe said Pyongyang would join “any talks in various forms” means they not only want six-party talks but also a bilateral meeting with Washington or Japan or a trilateral one.

So far, North Korea has claimed the cease-fire agreement as a “victory in the national liberalization war.”

In 2012, Kim Jong-un convened an unusually large ceremony.

On March 5, North Korea announced it would nullify the non-aggression treaty that halted the Korean War in protest of the Seoul-Washington joint military exercises.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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