North Korean leader Kim Jong-un says his country is waiting for a desired response in stalled nuclear talks with the US, as he met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Pyongyang.
“North Korea would like to remain patient, but it hopes the relevant party will meet halfway with North Korea to explore resolution plans that accommodate each other’s reasonable concerns,” Kim said, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
Xi’s trip to North Korea, the first by a Chinese president in 14 years, raises the possibility that China could help break a months-long impasse in talks between the US and North Korea over the North’s nuclear weapons.
Describing the issue as “highly complex and sensitive”, Xi said his government is willing to play a constructive role in the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
“The international community expects the US and North Korea to continue to talk and achieve results,” Xi said on Thursday, according to CCTV.
The summit comes as both countries are locked in separate disputes with the US – China over trade and North Korea over its nuclear weapons.
With Xi due to meet US President Donald Trump next week in Japan, analysts say Kim may ask the Chinese leader to pass on a message that could revive the talks with the United States.
Xi’s two-day state visit to North Korea, announced just three days ago, began with the synchronised pomp of all major events in the country.
About 10,000 cheering people and a 21-gun salute greeted Xi and senior Chinese officials at an arrival ceremony at Pyongyang’s airport.
The CCTV evening news showed Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan waving to the crowd after emerging from their Air China plane, then being greeted by Kim and his wife Ri Sol Ju before receiving flowers and watching goose-stepping troops march by.
The crowd stood in tight formations, waving flowers and chanting slogans to welcome Xi.
Other people lined the roads and cheered from overpasses as Xi’s motorcade travelled to central Pyongyang, where he joined Kim in an open-top vehicle.
Standing in the car, they waved to crowds as they rode to the square where the embalmed bodies of Kim’s grandfather and father, the first two leaders of North Korea, lie in state.
The Korean Central News Agency, which is an arm of the North Korean government, said newspapers in the country are praising Xi’s visit.
“Newspapers of the DPRK in their editorials on Thursday say that the Korean people warmly welcome with delight Xi Jinping, president of the People’s Republic of China, who is coming to the DPRK with the warm friendship feeling of the fraternal Chinese people,” the KCNA reported.
Nuclear talks between the US and North Korea broke down after a second summit between Kim and Trump in February in Vietnam ended in failure.
A series of North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear tests in 2016 and 2017 alarmed the US, its Asian allies, Japan and South Korea, and even China.