HONG KONG -- In their third meeting in less than three months, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly hailed their close and growing ties, while Xi urged the United States and North Korea to build on the momentum from their Singapore summit.
“No matter how the international and regional situations change,” Xi told the North Korean leader, China and the Communist Party’s support of North Korea will remain “unchanged,” according to China’s state-run news agency Xinhua.
Kim, in turn, vowed to “lift the unbreakable … [North Korea]-China relations to a new level.”
Xi commended Kim for making “positive efforts for realizing denuclearization and maintain peace on the peninsula,” adding that the situation there has been “put back on the right track of seeking settlement” and that “the situation on the peninsula was developing towards peace and stability.”
Kim arrived in Beijing Tuesday morning and returned to North Korea late Wednesday.
According to the official Chinese comments on the meetings, Xi was quoted as saying," China speaks highly of the summit.”
The most crucial remarks were possibly Kim’s commitment to “implement the consensus of the summit step-by-step solidly; the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will open up a new and important prospect.”
The phrase “step by step” was deliberate, showing that China supported Kim’s own proposed pace of denuclearization.
The Trump administration had sought for North Korea to be “completely denuclearized” before any sanctions would be lifted.
The resulting joint statement the United States and North Korea ultimately signed in Singapore last week included no timetable.
But “China will continue to play a constructive role to this end,” Xi said.
Xi and wife Peng Liyuan Tuesday night welcomed Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, with a banquet and cultural performance at the Great Hall of the People just off Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Kim previously met with Xi on two secret meetings in late March in Beijing and in early May in the coastal city of Dalian. Prior to the Singapore summit, Trump had complained that the North Koreans’ attitude changed after Kim and Xi met in Dalian.
Xi and Kim’s meeting continued during the morning Wednesday at the Diaoyutai guesthouse, where Kim was staying, concluding with a luncheon again with their wives.
Before returning to Pyongyang, Kim visited a national agricultural technology innovation park under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and the Beijing rail traffic control center.