China urges North Korea to proceed with Trump summit amid threats
|Toronto Star 16 May 2018 at 07:23|
BEIJINGâ€”China on Wednesday urged ally North Korea to proceed with a historic summit between its leader, Kim Jong Un, and U.S. President Donald Trump, amid the Northâ€™s threats to scrap the meeting.
The call came as President Xi Jinping met with a delegation from North Koreaâ€™s ruling Workerâ€™s Party, at which he expressed support for the Northâ€™s avowed new emphasis on economic development along with improving relations with South Korea.
â€śWe support the improvement of North-South (Korean) relations, the promotion of dialogue between North Korea and the U.S., denuclearization on the peninsula and North Koreaâ€™s development of its economy and improvement of its peopleâ€™s livelihood,â€ť Chinese President Xi Jinping was quoted as saying.Â Â (Thomas Peter / GETTY IMAGES)
â€śWe support the improvement of North-South (Korean) relations, the promotion of dialogue between North Korea and the U.S., denuclearization on the peninsula and North Koreaâ€™s development of its economy and improvement of its peopleâ€™s livelihood,â€ť Xi was quoted as saying by state broadcaster CCTV.
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Neither CCTV nor the official Xinhua News Agency said whether the Kim-Trump summit was discussed.
At a daily briefing, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said North Korea and the U.S. should ensure the summit runs as planned and yields â€śsubstantial outcomes.â€ť
â€śOnly in this way can we consolidate the alleviation of the situation and maintain peace and stability in the region,â€ť Lu said.
Kim and Trump are due to meet in Singapore on June 12, but North Korea on Wednesday threatened to withdraw, saying it has no interest in a â€śone-sidedâ€ť meeting meant to pressure it into abandoning its nuclear weapons.
North Koreaâ€™s warning came hours after it abruptly cancelled a high-level meeting with South Korea to protest U.S.-South Korean military exercises.
China has called for the building of mutual trust through the suspension of large-scale U.S. and South Korean war games in return for a halt of the Northâ€™s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests.
Xi has met twice with Kim over the past two months in what was seen as an attempt to ensure Chinaâ€™s interests are upheld in any negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea.
Analysts said North Koreaâ€™s threat to scuttle the summit is likely an attempt to gain leverage over Washington, which has demanded the North immediately and irreversibly cease its nuclear weapons program.
In his meeting with Xi last week, Kim registered his desire for Chinese support in the talks, particularly his call for a â€śphased and synchronousâ€ť approach to denuclearization, as opposed to Trumpâ€™s demand for an immediate end to its nuclear program.
China is North Koreaâ€™s most important economic partner and has long sought to convince it to follow Beijingâ€™s path of enacting free market reforms while maintaining tight single-party rule.
At his meeting with Xi, the leader of the North Korean delegation, Pak Thae Song, said he had been entrusted with consolidating recent agreements between Kim and Xi as well as studying Chinaâ€™s model of economic development and â€śreform and opening.â€ť
â€śWe will play an active role in carrying out our partyâ€™s new strategic line of prioritizing economic development,â€ť Pak, a vice chairman of the Workersâ€™ Party Central Committee, was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
China-North Korea relations appear to have outwardly improved following Kimâ€™s March visit to Beijing â€” his first trip abroad since taking power six years ago.
However, Chinaâ€™s strict enforcement of United Nations economic sanctions are believed to have brought economic pain to the North, which suffers from chronic food insecurity and a shortage of fuel and foreign exchange to buy needed imports.