Xi Jinping 'highly likely' to visit North Korea in April

SEOUL • Chinese President Xi Jinping is highly likely to visit North Korea in April, followed by a trip to South Korea in May, South Korea's ruling party leader said.

"It seems like Chinese President Xi Jinping is slated to visit North Korea in April, and there is a high possibility that he will visit South Korea in May," Democratic Party leader Lee Hae-chan said last Friday at a meeting with new presidential chief of staff Noh Young-min during his courtesy call on the National Assembly.

"A summit between China and North Korea, followed by a second US-North Korea summit and inter-Korea summit will foster peace in North-east Asia," Mr Lee said.

He also said the path for inter-Korea economic exchanges and cooperation is now visible, which could revitalise the economy.

Mr Xi had met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Beijing last week - their fourth summit meeting - during the latter's four-day visit to the Chinese capital.

China is considered the best buffer North Korea has against United States pressure and sanctions as Mr Kim prepares for a second meeting with President Donald Trump.

He also consulted with Mr Xi before and after his first meeting with Mr Trump, which took place in Singapore in June last year.

 

The June meeting produced a vaguely worded agreement to "work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula" and "new" relations between North Korea and the US, which have been adversaries for seven decades.

But talks have stalled over how to implement the Singapore deal.

Washington wants Pyongyang to start dismantling its nuclear facilities and weapons, while North Korea has demanded that the US first build trust with corresponding measures, starting with the easing of sanctions.

When Mr Xi met Mr Kim last Tuesday, the Chinese leader urged North Korea and the US to meet each other "in the middle", China's Xinhua news agency reported.

KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 13, 2019, with the headline 'Xi 'highly likely' to visit N. Korea in April'. Print Edition | Subscribe