Chinese President Xi Jinping hopes “smooth” talks between North Korea’s leader and the presidents of the United States and South Korea can produce progress towards Pyongyang’s denuclearisation, according to state media.
Xi made the remarks during a meeting Monday with South Korea’s national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, who was in Beijing to brief Chinese leaders about his meetings with Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump last week.
Kim has agreed to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in late April in the Demilitarized Zone, while Trump and the North Korean leader could meet by the end of May.
“We expect a smooth DPRK-ROK summit and DPRK-US dialogue,” Xi said, using the acronyms for North Korea and South Korea, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Xi voiced hope that the talks will lead to “substantial progress” in the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and toward the normalisation of relations between the countries involved.
The peninsula faces “an important opportunity for easing tension” and all sides should be “patient and cautious”, the Chinese leader said.
Xi said China is willing to work with the international community to promote Beijing’s “dual-track approach” along with “helpful proposals from all sides”.
China has called for a dual framework of committing to denuclearisation while establishing a peace mechanism. It has also proposed a “suspension-for-suspension” plan in which the United States, South Korea and Japan freeze military drills in return for North Korea halting its nuclear and missile tests.
“As long as all parties can focus on the fundamental goal of denuclearisation, peace and stability, the Korean peninsula will finally usher in the spring, when ice will thaw and flowers will bloom,” Xi said.
For his part, Chung thanked Xi for his “big role” in the diplomatic process that led to the “very positive changes”.
Beijing has played a key role in implementing UN sanctions on the North, which are believed to have put immense pressure on the country’s fragile economy.
China is North Korea’s only diplomatic ally and its most important trade partner.
Still, some in China are afraid the country, which hosted failed six-nation talks on the nuclear issue a decade ago, could be cut out of negotiations on denuclearising the Korean peninsula.
While Chung briefed Xi, South Korea sent the head of its National Intelligence Service, Suh Hoon, to Japan to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Abe, a hawk on North Korea who also has tense relations with the South’s Moon, promised Tuesday to cooperate with Seoul as it embarks on the bilateral summit talks.
He reiterated that Japan also felt passionate about resolving the issue of the abductions of its citizens by Pyongyang.
North Korean agents kidnapped a number of ordinary Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s, in order to train its spies in the Japanese language and culture.
“With Japan, South Korea and the United States closely cooperating, I wish to put all my strength toward resolution of the nuclear issue, the missile issue and the abduction issue,” Abe said.