Xi says China supports political settlement of Korean Peninsula issue

Xi says China supports political settlement of Korean Peninsula issue

Russian Federation and China have blocked the United Nations Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against North Korea from declaring that Pyongyang breached the annual limit for importing refined petroleum products, which are key for its economy, two UN diplomats said Tuesday.

The visit, Xi's first as CPC chief and Chinese head of state and also the first of its kind in 14 years, came as the two neighboring countries are celebrating the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic ties.

China is the most important ally for North Korea and the most generous benefactor.

"Both leaders will likely seek to put pressure on Washington to conduct nuclear diplomacy with North Korea largely on North Korea's terms - through a phased, step-by-step approach to denuclearization and including partial sanctions relief", said Mintaro Oba, a former USA diplomat who worked on Korean Peninsula issues.

The summit comes as both countries are locked in separate disputes with the US - Mr Xi over trade and Mr Kim over his nuclear weapons - and a week before the G20 summit in Japan, where Mr Xi is expected to meet with US President Donald Trump.

Hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets of Pyongyang, waving flowers and the flags of the countries and chanting slogans, such as "DPRK-China friendship", as a motorcade carrying the two leaders in a roofless vehicle headed to central Pyongyang.

Xi and other Chinese officials were greeted at the airport by Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, during an arrival ceremony that included a 21-gun salute and a military band, Chinese state media reported.

North Korea's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper welcomed Mr Xi's "historic visit" in a front-page commentary alongside a lengthy profile.

Thae told a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday that Kim may ask Xi to act "as a kind of mediator at the G20" to convey directly to Trump a fresh offer on his nuclear weapons program, a demand that the USA president himself said he has insisted on - the closure of five uranium enrichment sites believed to exist in the North.

China has fretted over being sidelined by diplomatic developments since past year, with Trump going as far as declaring he had fallen "in love" with Kim, and the comment was a clear assertion of Beijing's place in the negotiations.

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Those negotiations broke down in February after Trump rejected Kim's offer to close some nuclear facilities in exchange for the elimination of the most severe United Nations sanctions on North Korea.

North Korea is seeking a step-by-step approach in which moves toward denuclearisation are matched by concessions from the United States, notably a relaxation of economic sanctions.

He also vowed that Beijing would play an active role in "strengthening communication and coordination with North Korea and other relevant parties" to push forward negotiations on the Korean peninsula.

A former unification minister called for government action Thursday, as he raised concerns that the denuclearization talks may be expanded to a four-way dialogue that includes China in addition to the two Koreas and the US.

Xi and Kim have been working to fix ties, with the young North Korean leader visiting his older ally, four times in China in the past year and calling on Beijing for sanctions to be relaxed.

"North Korea is drawing up a new plan for third summit with U.S.", Thae told the paper. But he cautioned that such a move would be only to buy time and not to denuclearize fully, as the demanding.

The last summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump did not end well.

Zhao Tong, North Korea expert at the Carnegie Tsinghua Center think tank in Beijing, said he does not expect any "substantive discussions" on denuclearisation during the meeting, because "China and North Korea do not have enough mutual trust".

Pyongyang wants to demonstrate to Trump that it has China's support after Trump and Kim's second summit in Hanoi in February broke up without a deal.

A banner read: "Long Live with Unbreakable Friendship and Unity Formed by Blood".