BEIJING (Reuters) – North Korea’s commitment to denuclearization and safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean peninsula are unchanged, its foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, said on Friday, at a meeting in Beijing with the Chinese government’s top diplomat, Wang Yi.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho meets China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing December 7, 2018. Fred Dufour/Pool via REUTERS
China is the North’s most important economic and diplomatic backer, despite anger over its neighbor’s nuclear and missile programs. Ties have warmed in the last year as Pyongyang’s relations with both Seoul and Washington have also improved.
Ri added that North Korea hoped to build “required mutual trust” with the United States and “move in the same direction”, the Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement on the meeting of the two officials.
At a landmark June summit in Singapore, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to work towards denuclearization, but the pact was sketchy and talks since have made little headway.
“China and North Korea must continue to push the peninsula toward the direction of denuclearization,” the ministry cited Wang as saying, and adding that the neighbors should maintain high-level exchanges.
Meeting Ri later, President Xi Jinping said China and North Korea should strengthen communication.
“The international and regional situation, as well as the situation on the Korean peninsula, remains in flux, so timely exchanges and the coordination of positions between China and North Korea are still extremely essential,” Xi said, in comments made before reporters.
Ri, who is due to leave China on Saturday, visited Syria this week.
Kim has visited China three times this year for meetings with Xi. Diplomatic sources say Xi will probably go to North Korea at some point soon.
Last month, South Korea said Xi intended to visit North Korea next year at Kim’s invitation, which would make Xi the first Chinese leader to do so since 2005.
Last weekend, Trump said he was likely to meet Kim again in January or February, with three possible sites being considered for their second meeting.
The two countries have held talks over a second meeting after the unprecedented June summit, Reuters reported in October, citing a senior official.
Reporting by Philip Wen and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez