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North Korea

China’s Xi Jinping tells South Korean President Moon Jae-in he may visit North Korea next year

  • Chinese leader says he has received an invitation from North Korea’s Kim Jong-un
  • Xi met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 November, 2018, 3:10am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 November, 2018, 4:22am

Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Saturday that he has received an invitation to visit North Korea from the country’s leader Kim Jong-un and is considering travelling there next year.

He made the disclosure in talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Port Moresby, where they are attending a two-day summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, the South Korean Presidential Office said.

Moon invited Xi to visit South Korea as part of the improving situation on the Korean peninsula, and Xi replied that he is prepared to do so next year if circumstances allow.

It would be extremely unusual for Xi to visit both North and South Korea within the same year. His remarks indicate China’s intention to boost its involvement on the peninsula.

At the meeting on the sidelines of the Apec gathering, the two leaders discussed denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and efforts to consolidate peace. They appear to have also exchanged opinions on measures to encourage North Korea’s denuclearisation process.

The talks between the two men were the first since December last year, when Moon made a state visit to Beijing.

While US-North Korea denuclearisation talks are in a stalemate, Moon hopes for the cooperation of China, a long-standing ally of North Korea.

According to South Korean news media, Moon in his opening remarks expressed his appreciation for Xi’s “constructive role” in resolving the Korean peninsula issue.

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“As the two countries’ strategic interests of peace and prosperity in Northeast Asia coincide, I hope we can cooperate more closely on the development of China-South Korea relations and the peace process on the peninsula,” Moon said, according to his spokesman.

Xi, for his part, said China and South Korea “should continue to play a positive role in continuing to deepen the two countries’ strategic communication and maintaining an enduring peace and prosperity in this region.”

Unlike the United States and Japan, which call for the strict enforcement of UN sanctions on North Korea until it denuclearises, China favours an easing of the sanctions in view of recent positive developments.

Kim expressed his readiness, in a meeting with Moon in Pyongyang in September, to permanently dismantle the North’s main nuclear complex if the United States takes unspecified corresponding measures.