SEOUL (Reuters) – China President Xi Jinping intends to visit North Korea next year after receiving an invitation from North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, South Korea said on Saturday which would make Xi the first Chinese leader to do since 2005  China’s President Xi Jinping comes to APEC CEO Summit 2018 in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on November 17, 2018. Fazry Ismail / Pool via REUTERS
Xi told the South Korean president Moon Jae-in at a bilateral meeting later on Summit in Asia and Pacific in Papua New Guinea that he would “make time” to visit North Korea next year.
Xi added that China would continue to play a constructive role in building peace in the Koreans peninsula, Kim Eui-kyeom, spokesman for South Korea’s presidency, said at a gathering after the meeting between Xi and Moon.
This is coming at a time when negotiations between North Korea and the United States seem to have gone over how to remove Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.
At an unprecedented summit in Singapore, US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim in June agreed to work against nuclear weapons and peace on the Korean peninsula and create new relationships. But the deal was lacking in detail and negotiations have been a little weak for a long time.
Xis travel to North Korea would be the first of a Chinese president since his predecessor Hu Jintao visited 2005. Xi traveled to North Korea 2008 as vice president.
In violation of existing international sanctions against North Korea after the gun tests, China is Pyongyang’s only major allies and an important economic life level for the isolated country.
China seems to have relaxed enforcement of sanctions against Pyongyang because relations between China and North Korea have tined after the long-standing alliance in Beijing began to engage with the United States this year, a US Congressional Commission said earlier this week.
China’s story about the bilateral meeting in Papua New Guinea mentioned nothing about Xi who plans to travel to North Korea.
Xi said that in recent years the situation in the Korean Peninsula had undergone positive changes that returned to the “right track” of talks, according to a statement by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“At present, the situation is on the peninsula at a critical stage,” the Ministry said Xi.
China and South Korea should strengthen communication and coordinate the process of promoting the hemisphere and creating a peace mechanism, Xi said.
“The key is that the parties concerned meet each other half way, show flexibility and speak and for those who speak to get results,” he said.
The two leaders agreed that a second summit between Washington and Pyongyang and a planned visit by North Korea’s leader Kim to Seoul would be an “important breakthrough” to resolve the situation on the peninsula according to South Korea’s presidency.
The president of the South Korean president said that Xi was also willing to come to South Korea next year at an appropriate time.
South Korea’s presidency issues a transcript of its briefing at the Port Moresby meeting.
Reporting of Ju-min Park and Soyoung Kim; Further Reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing Tom Hogue
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