TOKYO • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told Chinese President Xi Jinping during talks in Beijing last week that he agreed to return to the six-party talks on his nation’s nuclear programme and missile tests, the Nikkei newspaper said yesterday.
Months of chill between Beijing and Pyongyang appeared to suddenly vanish during Mr Kim’s secretive visit, with China saying that Mr Kim had pledged his commitment to denuclearisation.
Quoting multiple sources connected to China and North Korea, the Nikkei said that, according to documents issued after the two leaders met, Mr Kim told Mr Xi that he agreed to resuming the six-party talks, which were last held in 2009. North Korea declared the on-again, off-again talks dead at the time, blaming US aggression. The talks involved the two Koreas, the United States, Russia, Japan and host China.
The sources said it was also possible that Mr Kim could convey his willingness to resume the talks to US President Donald Trump at a summit set to take place next month, but that it was far from clear if that meant the talks would actually resume.
Chinese officials were not immediately able to comment.
China has traditionally been secretive North Korea’s closest ally, though ties have been frayed by Mr Kim’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and missiles and Beijing’s backing of tough United Nations sanctions in response.
North Korea has said in previous talks that it could consider giving up its nuclear arsenal if the US removed its troops from South Korea and withdrew its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from South Korea and Japan.
Some analysts have said Mr Trump’s willingness to meet Mr Kim handed North Korea a diplomatic win, as the US had insisted for years that any such summit be preceded by North Korean steps to denuclearise.
The two Koreas have seen a significant thaw in ties since the North’s participation in the South’s Winter Olympics in February.
Mr Kim and his wife on Sunday made a surprise appearance at the first of two concerts performed by a South Korean art troupe this week in Pyongyang, titled Spring Is Coming. Mr Kim proposed another concert in South Korea later this year with performers from the North.