Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping hold surprise second summit
Meeting signals China’s desire for influence ahead of planned Kim-Trump summit
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has held a surprise second summit in two months with China’s president Xi Jinping, meeting his country’s staunchest ally ahead of a planned forthcoming summit with US president Donald Trump.
China’s state news agency Xinhua said Mr Xi met Mr Kim in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian on Monday and Tuesday, the second time in 40 days the two communist leaders have met.
“Xi held talks with Kim and hosted a welcome banquet for him. Together, they also took a stroll and attended a luncheon,” Xinhua reported.
“In a cordial and friendly atmosphere, the top leaders of the two parties and the two countries had an all-round and in-depth exchange of views on China-DPRK relations and major issues of common concern,” Xinhua said. DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is the official acronym for North Korea.
A report on the meeting was also carried by the North’s state broadcaster.
Mr Kim is expected to hold an unprecedented summit with Mr Trump late this month or early next month. No decision has been made yet on the venue, although Singapore and the South Korean border town of Panmunjom are believed to be in consideration.
State media in North Korea said Mr Kim flew to Dalian on a special aircraft and was accompanied by his influential sister Kim Yo-jong, as well as Ri Su-yong, vice party chairman on international affairs.
China and North Korea fought side by side in the Korean War (1950-53), and remain close, but relations have been strained since the start of Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, which Beijing fears has raised tensions on its borders.
The meeting is a sign that China is keen to boost its role in resolving the Korean nuclear crisis.
Developments took a positive turn last month when South Korean president Moon Jae-in and Mr Kim held talks in Panmunjom, during which they agreed to denuclearise the peninsula and sign an armistice to formally end the Korean War.
China has been largely sidelined by the developments between the two Koreas and the US, and will be keen to ensure the North does not get too close to Washington, which it sees as a competitor in the region.
Mr Xi was in Dalian to attend a ceremony around the testing of China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier.