Xi Jinping to attend regional summit in Russia; North Korea's Kim Jong Un invited

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping have met three times this year as the two countries sought to repair relations frayed by North Korea's nuclear activities.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping have met three times this year as the two countries sought to repair relations frayed by North Korea's nuclear activities. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING • Chinese President Xi Jinping will be at a regional summit in Russia next week, officials said yesterday, joining the prime ministers of Japan and South Korea at a gathering to which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been invited.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited Mr Kim to participate in the Sept 11-13 Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok.

Mr Kim has not confirmed his attendance, but his participation would mark another major step in his efforts to bring Pyongyang out of international isolation over its nuclear weapons programme.

At a press briefing to announce Mr Xi's visit, Chinese officials would not comment on whether he planned to meet other leaders during the summit. "Should we have any proposals from other countries, China will positively consider (them)," Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Hanhui said.

Mr Kim and Mr Xi have met three times in China this year as the two countries sought to repair relations frayed by North Korea's nuclear activities and Beijing's backing of United Nations sanctions against its Cold War-era ally.

Mr Xi is sending the head of China's legislature, Mr Li Zhanshu, to Pyongyang this weekend to attend celebrations marking North Korea's 70th anniversary, ending speculation that the Chinese President would use the occasion to make his first official trip to the neighbouring country.

In the latest chapter in the roller-coaster diplomacy over North Korea, US President Donald Trump signalled on Thursday that denuclearisation negotiations remain alive after weeks of an apparent deadlock.

Mr Xi will be in Vladivostok on Tuesday and Wednesday. It will be the first time that a Chinese leader is participating in the annual economic forum hosted by Russia.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2018, with the headline 'Xi to attend regional summit in Russia; N. Korea's Kim invited'. Print Edition | Subscribe