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Trump-Kim Summit

Kim showcases unity with Xi on denuclearization

Chinese leader emphasizes continued role ahead of US-North Korea talks

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, attends a welcome ceremony with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 19. (Xinhua/Kyodo)

BEIJING -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un told Chinese President Xi Jinping here on Tuesday that the gradual implementation of last week's joint statement at the U.S.-North Korea summit will bring results on denuclearization.

The North Korean leader, visiting Xi in China for the third time in as many months, said his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump achieved positive results in line with the interests of the parties concerned and the expectations of the international community, according to Chinese state media.  

"If the two sides can implement the consensus of the summit step by step solidly, the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will open up a new and important prospect," Kim said.

Xi struck a similar note on the June 12 summit in Singapore, calling it an important step toward the political settlement of the nuclear issue and urging both sides to fulfill their agreement. China will continue to play a "constructive role," he said.

Trump and Kim signed a statement at that meeting in which the North Korean leader reaffirmed his commitment to the complete denuclearization of the peninsula while the U.S. offered security guarantees. The U.S. has since announced the suspension of joint military exercises with South Korea.

The emphasis Tuesday by both Xi and Kim on implementing that "consensus" signaled that the Asian leaders still seek a phased approach in which North Korea receives concessions in exchange for each step toward ending its nuclear program.

Xi also stressed that Beijing would continue to back Pyongyang. "No matter how the international and regional situations change, the firm stance of the Chinese government on consolidating and developing the relations with the DPRK remains unchanged," he said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Tuesday's talks followed summits in Beijing in March and in Dalian last month. Both leaders sought to portray a cozy relationship, with Xi applauding the quick succession of meetings and Kim calling the Chinese president "a great leader who is greatly respected and trusted" by the people of North Korea.

Presenting a united front with China to resist American pressure was likely among Kim's goals for the summit. Talks between high-level U.S. and North Korean officials are set to begin as early as this week, and Washington is expected to push Pyongyang harder to commit to details on the process and time frame for denuclearization.

Kim may also have sought Xi's support on easing sanctions, a priority for North Korea. Pyongyang insists that Washington must offer economic aid as part of a phased denuclearization arrangement, but U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stated that sanctions relief will come only after the North's nuclear program is completely scrapped.

The summit was also attended by Wang Huning, a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, China's top decision-making body; Politburo member Yang Jiechi; and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Vice President Wang Qishan, a member of the Communist Party committee that steers foreign policy, attended a dinner held after the talks.

On the North Korean side, Kim was accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju; Choe Ryong Hae, vice chairman of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party; Premier Pak Pong Ju; and party vice chairmen Ri Su Yong and Kim Yong Chol.

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