BEIJING — North Korea’s Kim Jong Un made his first-ever foreign trip as leader to meet Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing, the official Xinhua news agency said Wednesday.
China has confirmed leader Kim Jong-un has visited Beijing, and says it won a pledge from him to work towards denuclearising the Korean Peninsula.
During the visit from Sunday to Wednesday which came at the invitation of Xi, Kim held talks with the Chinese president who hosted a banquet to welcome the North Korean leader and his wife Ri Sol Ju, Xinhua said.
“I have had successful talks with General Secretary Xi Jinping on developing relations between the two parties and the two countries, our respective domestic situation, maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and other issues,” Kim said at the banquet.
The North Korean leader further termed the China visit his “solemn duty”. He also said that his country is committed to denuclearisation.
Beijing has traditionally been the closest ally of secretive North Korea, but ties have been frayed by the North’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and China’s backing of tough UN sanctions in response.
But, relations between China and North Korea had soured as Beijing has backed tough United Nations sanctions to punish Pyongyang for its missile and nuclear tests.
Xinhua said Mr Kim told Mr Xi that the situation on the Korean Peninsula was starting to improve because North Korea had taken the initiative to ease tensions and put forward proposals for peace talks.
“It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearisation on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il-sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong-il,” Kim Jong-un said, according to Xinhua.
Analysts had earlier suggested Beijing had been sidelined by Pyongyang’s approaches to Seoul and Washington, but Kim’s visit puts China firmly back at the centre of the diplomatic scrum.
“Both Comrade Chairman and I have personally experienced and witnessed the development of China-DPRK relationship,” Xi said, using the initials for North Korea’s official name.
China conduct live fire drill along southeast coastline
BEIJING — China’s military has conducted live-fire drills along the southeast coastline, state television reported, but it was unclear if these were the same exercises that had been flagged as taking place in the sensitive Taiwan Strait.
The government had said the drills would happen on Wednesday off the city of Quanzhou, in between two groups of islands close to China’s coast but that Taiwan has controlled since 1949 when defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island at the end of the Chinese civil war.
Chinese state media has said the drills were a direct response to “provocations” by Taiwan leaders related to what China fears are moves to push for the self-ruled island’s formal independence. China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory.
Late on Wednesday, Chinese state television showed footage of helicopters firing missiles during an exercise it said was happening on China’s southeast coast.
State television only showed pictures of helicopters, with no mention of ships or other military equipment such as tanks or amphibious assault vehicles.
The exercises took place from 8 a.m. (0000GMT) until midnight, the report said, giving the same time frame for the previously announced drills in the Taiwan Strait.
The Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the exercise, and whether it was the same ones previously reported to be happening in the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan on Wednesday denounced the exercises, saying Beijing was using “cheap verbal intimidation and saber rattling” to threaten the island.
Taiwan is one of China’s most sensitive issues and a potential military flashpoint. China has ramped up military exercises around Taiwan in the past year, including flying bombers around the island.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday afternoon two Chinese H-6K bombers had flown around the island, passing first through the Miyako Strait to Taiwan’s northeast and then back to base via the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines.
The latest Chinese military movements come during a time of heightened tension between Beijing and the island and follows strong warnings by Chinese President Xi Jinping against Taiwan separatism last month.
China claims Taiwan as its own and considers it a breakaway province.Follow @gorkhapost