China’s Xi praises North Korea’s Kim for Trump summit, promises support

China’s Xi praises North Korea’s Kim for Trump summit, promises support

As NPR's Anthony Kuhn notes, Chinese state media have even publicly announced this third visit with Kim still in the country.

The plane that landed in Beijing was used during the historic summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore last week, Kyodo reported.

Kim "felt thanks for and highly praised China's promotion of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and its important role in protecting the peninsula's peace and stability", state broadcaster CCTV said.

The decision to halt military exercises in South Korea has bewildered many current and former US defense officials, who only learned about it when Trump announced it in Singapore, after the summit with Kim.

By introducing unprecedented security and economic incentives for denuclearization, on top of the toughest sanctions ever applied against Pyongyang, the Trump administration has maximized diplomatic leverage against Kim Jong Un. China's foreign ministry did not respond immediately to a request for comment on whether Kim was visiting.

While opinions about the success of that summit for the U.S. and North Korea remain divided, most agree that China ended up as the real victor in Singapore with Trump announcing the suspension of joint military drills with South Korea, calling the exercises "provocative", and even alluding to pulling United States troops out of the Korean Peninsula. China will continue to play a constructive role, he said.

About 7,700 US military personnel remain unaccounted from the 1950-1953 Korean War, US military data shows.

The UN Security Council imposed a series of economic sanctions against North Korea after it conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, crippling Pyongyang's economy.

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Officials here say his visit was expected to crystallise the next course of action by him to announce the denuclearisation process and further steps on the Korean peninsula.

"There may be differences ahead between the DPRK and the USA in regards to denuclearisation, because the United States wants irreversible and verifiable denuclearisation".

Trump in the past has said Kim has changed his mind after his talks with Xi.

"We have two nationalistic leaders who are in some ways mirroring each other, who are lining up policies that make conflict between the two more likely not less likely", said Scott Kennedy, deputy director of China studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

In the intervening weeks, the two sides have exchanged several offers and counter offers - with China pledging to buy tens of billions of dollars of US energy and agricultural products each year - only for the threats and retaliation to resume. "Kim will be reassuring Xi that China's interests are not being overlooked".

Analysts saw this as a clear sign of Beijing's influence.

"There remains hard work" and "difficult days" in denuclearisation negotiations with North Korea, Pompeo had said.

According to Tsang, China's main priorities during these talks will be to find a way to guarantee they are not sidelined in finding a solution over the Korean Peninsula and to ensure Kim does not make a deal with the U.S.at the expense of Beijing.

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