BEIJING/SEOUL – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made unprecedented announcement during his first ever foreign visit to China.
He has pledged to denuclearise and meet US officials, China said on Wednesday after an historic meeting with President Xi Jinping, who promised China would uphold its friendship with its isolated neighbour.
After two days of speculation, China and North Korea both confirmed that Kim had visited Beijing and met Xi during what China’s Foreign Ministry called an unofficial visit to China from Sunday to Wednesday.
The China visit was Kim’s first known trip outside North Korea since he assumed power in 2011 and is believed by analysts to serve as preparation for upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States.
North Korea’s KCNA news agency made no mention of Kim’s pledge to denuclearise, or his anticipated meeting with US President Donald Trump that is planned for some time in May.
Beijing has traditionally been the closest ally of secretive North Korea , but ties have been frayed by Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and China’s backing of tough UN sanctions in response.
China’s Foreign Ministry cited Kim in a lengthy statement as telling Xi that the situation on the Korean peninsula was starting to improve because North Korea had taken the initiative to ease tensions and put forward proposals for peace talks.
“It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearisation on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il,” Kim Jong Un said, according to the statement.
North Korea is willing to talk with the United States and hold a summit between the two countries, he said.
“The issue of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realisation of peace,” Kim said. - Agencies