North Korea's Kim Jong Un remains firm on denuclearisation, says Chinese President Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping during a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in (not pictured) in Osaka, Japan, on June 27, 2019.
Chinese President Xi Jinping during a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in (not pictured) in Osaka, Japan, on June 27, 2019.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

OSAKA (THE KOREAN HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's intentions regarding denuclearisation and dialogue remain unchanged, and he is open to engaging with South Korea, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday (June 27).

At the summit meeting with President Moon Jae-in in Osaka, Japan, Mr Xi relayed these and other plans Mr Kim has, briefing his South Korean counterpart on his trip to Pyongyang.

"(Kim's) intentions on denuclearisation are unchanged," Mr Xi was quoted as saying by the South's presidential Blue House spokesman Ko Min-jung.

Mr Xi had visited Pyongyang - his first as China's leader - on a two-day state visit starting June 20 and held his fifth summit with Mr Kim.

"Second, (Kim) is following a new strategic direction, focusing on economic development and improving people's livelihood, and hopes for the external environment to be improved."

According to Mr Ko, Mr Xi was relaying Mr Kim's words, rather than expressing his personal views on North Korea.

Mr Xi also said that Mr Kim expressed his intention to "maintain perseverance" and that he is willing to seek reconciliation and cooperation with the South.


South Korean President Moon Jae-in with Chinese President Xi Jinping prior to their summit talks in Osaka, Japan, on June 27, 2019. PHOTO: EPA-EFE/YONHAP

The issue of the US Thaad missile defence system, whose deployment in the South was met by severe economic retaliation from Beijing, was also raised at the summit, a Blue House official said on condition of anonymity.

According to the official, Thaad was first raised by Mr Xi, and Mr Moon responded by saying that such issues are part of the reason why the denuclearisation issue must be resolved.

China has strongly opposed the deployment of the system in the South, claiming that the US defence system poses a threat to its national security.

Seoul and the US, for their part, maintain that the sole purpose of the Thaad system is to defend against North Korean missiles.

At the meeting, Mr Moon also touched on Seoul-Beijing negotiations on the bilateral free trade agreement, saying that he hopes for continued cooperation between the two countries.

Mr Xi said that the two countries should seek close cooperation in multilateral trade.

 
 
 
 

According to a Blue House official, US-China trade issues and Huawei Technologies were not discussed in depth, but that Mr Moon expressed his wish to avoid "a situation where (South Korea) will be required to choose between the two countries" due to the US-China trade conflict.

Aside from North Korea and trade issues, the two leaders discussed ways to increase bilateral cooperation including more direct interactions between high-level government officials.

On Seoul-Beijing relations, Mr Moon and Mr Xi agreed to seek stronger cooperation in a range of areas, including economic, environmental and cultural issues, the Blue House said.

"The two leaders discussed environmental issues such as air pollution, and Xi said that as China is making a tenfold effort in environmental protection, (it) will actively cooperate," Mr Ko said.

China is thought to be the source of a significant portion of particulate matter air pollution that plagues South Korea.

Seoul's presidential office also said that the two leaders agreed to arrange Mr Xi's visit to Seoul through diplomatic channels.

Following the summit, Mr Moon wrapped up the day with a meeting with Japan-based Koreans. On Friday, Mr Moon is scheduled to attend G-20 summit conferences and a string of bilateral summits.

In addition to meeting Mr Xi, the South Korean president is set to hold summit meetings with several heads of states, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, during his three-day stay in Japan.