Chinese President Xi Jinping will begin a two day-visit to North Korea on Thursday, Xinhua reported on Monday.
This will make him the first Chinese president to visit North Korea in a decade. The last Chinese leader to visit North Korea was Hu Jintao in 2005, Reuters reported.
Xi’s decision to visit Pyongyang came after repeated invitations from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The North Korean state media also confirmed the visit on Monday.
Ko Min-jung, a spokesperson for the South Korean presidential office, said Xi’s trip to North Korea would promote “the peaceful resolution of the Korean peninsula issue”, the South China Morning Post reported. Ko said: “I hope that this visit will contribute to the early resumption of talks on the complete denuclearisation of and the establishment of permanent peace on the Korean peninsula.”
“Both sides will exchange views on the [Korean] peninsula situation, and push for new progress in the political resolution of the peninsula issue,” China’s official broadcaster CCTV was quoted as saying by Reuters. This year marks the 70th year since China and North Korea established diplomatic ties.
Their meeting will take place a week before the G20 summit in Japan, where Xi is likely to meet United States President Donald Trump. South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s office said he would hold talks with Xi during the summit.
Xi’s visit to North Korea comes amid renewed tensions between Washington and Pyongyang over efforts to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, a trade war between the US and China continues following the failure of negotiations.
The White House said Xi’s visit highlights the importance that the world’s focus is still on North Korean denuclearisation. “Our goal is to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearisation of [North Korea] as agreed to by Chairman Kim,” a White House official told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
Kim and Trump held a summit last year in Singapore and one in Hanoi this year, but hopes of denuclearisation have faded. North Korea had said that nuclear renegotiations with the United States would “never resume” unless the Trump administration discontinues its unilateral demands for disarmament.