BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping offered high praise to visiting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday, lauding the “positive” outcome of his historic summit with US President Donald Trump and promising unwavering friendship.
Meeting Kim on his third trip to China this year, and just a week after Kim met Trump in Singapore on June 12, Xi said China was willing to keep playing a positive role to promote the peace process on the Korean peninsula.
Xi told Kim he was very happy to see the “positive” outcome of his meeting with Trump, and the important consensus reached on denuclearisation and setting up a lasting peace mechanism, according to Chinese state television.
“No matter the changes in the international and regional situation, China’s party and government’s resolute position on being dedicated to consolidating and developing Sino-North Korea relations will not change,” the report cited Xi as saying.
“The Chinese people’s friendship for the North Korean people will not change, and China’s support for socialist North Korea will not change,” Xi added.
Kim told Xi he hoped to work with China and other parties to push the peace process, Chinese state television said.
At the summit, Trump also said North Korea had agreed to return remains of US soldiers missing from the 1950-53 Korean War and US officials said that process could start within the next few days.
While not formally billed as a state visit, China gave Kim most of the trappings of one, including a welcome ceremony with honour guard in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.
Xi greeted Kim warmly, in images carried on state television. The two men were accompanied by their wives.
Xi said he was pleased to see North Korea’s decision to promote economic reforms, adding that China’s own reform and opening up process had meant the Chinese people’s eyes had been open to the world.
A Kim trip to China to discuss his summit with Trump had been widely anticipated in diplomatic circles. China is North Korea’s most important diplomatic and economic backer but has been angered by its nuclear and missile tests.
China welcomed the warming of ties between the US and North Korea, and offered to help.
Last year, 17,500 American and more than 50,000 South Korean troops joined the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, although the exercise is mostly focused on computerized simulations rather than field exercises.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said there would be no changes to joint drill plans between the US and Japan, both of which regularly practise to deter North Korea.
Japanese Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera said the decision to suspend the US-South Korean exercises was made to support the diplomatic effort between the US and North Korea but added it was “important to be wary of North Korea actions”.