BEIJING/TOKYO • China expressed hope yesterday that the United States and North Korea will keep talking, saying the nuclear issue will not be solved overnight, after a much-anticipated summit in Hanoi ended without a deal.
China is Pyongyang's sole major ally, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un travelled across the neighbouring country by train to his second meeting with US President Donald Trump, which ended ahead of schedule yesterday without any joint announcements.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he had yet to hear what Mr Trump or the North Korean leader had to say about the meeting.
"But I have always hoped that everyone can realise that the nuclear problem on the Korean peninsula has been going on for many years, and that solving this problem is definitely not something that can be achieved overnight," Mr Lu said at a regular media briefing in Beijing.
"It is not a very easy process, otherwise it would not have dragged on until today," Mr Lu said.
The spokesman reiterated Beijing's call for Washington and Pyongyang to "take care of each other's legitimate concerns". "I hope that both sides can continue to maintain such a dialogue," he said.
Mr Kim met Chinese President Xi Jinping four times in the past year, most recently in January.
The meetings were seen as opportunities to brief each other before and after Mr Kim's meetings with Mr Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
It is unclear whether the North Korean leader will see Mr Xi when he takes the train back across China to return home, as the route he will be taking is a tightly guarded secret.
China is North Korea's main trade partner, but it has backed a raft of United Nations sanctions following Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests.
North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Ri Kil Song met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing yesterday.
"This is the right time to come," Mr Wang said.
"We can discuss how to take the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the DPRK as an opportunity to promote the healthy and smooth development of bilateral relations," he added, using the abbreviation for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Mr Ri said the purpose of his delegation's visit was to put into practice the important consensus reached during the meetings between Mr Xi and Mr Kim, and to further strengthen communication and exchanges between the two foreign ministries.
Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said yesterday that he fully backed Mr Trump's decision to end his summit with Mr Kim without an agreement.
"I fully support President Trump's decision not to make the easy choice," Mr Abe said, following a phone call with Mr Trump.
"I am determined that I must meet Chairman Kim next," he added, reiterating his desire to have a summit with the North Korean leader. Mr Abe said Mr Trump, at his meeting with Mr Kim in Vietnam, had raised the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Koreans agents.
Mr Abe has said that Japan would not normalise diplomatic ties with Pyongyang or provide economic assistance until North Korea gave a full accounting of all those taken and returned any abductees who were still alive.
Russia yesterday also welcomed the readiness of both Mr Trump and Mr Kim to continue bilateral dialogue.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, XINHUA