Kim Jong-un doesn’t appear to be in a rush to dump his nuclear weapons.
In talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week, the North Korean leader reiterated his call for a gradual process to carry out the results of last week’s summit with US President Donald Trump. Chinese state media cited Kim as saying that denuclearisation would open up new prospects for both sides, if they could “implement the consensus of the summit step by step solidly.”
Kim’s remarks were another sign of lingering disagreements between Washington and
Pyongyang over the pace and sequence of North Korea’s disarmament and sanctions relief. Trump has said Kim could only see penalties relaxed after he “completely denuclearised,” while North Korean state media has previously said the US president had agreed to a “step-by-step” process.
Kim’s China’s visit — his third since March — reaffirmed Xi’s role as a key player in US efforts to ensure Trump’s landmark summit Kim in Singapore leads to a more specific commitment to disarm.
The statement Trump and Kim signed on June 12 included no timetable for North Korea’s denuclearisation, and Trump told reporters that he didn’t know how long it would take, “but it will be quickly.”
In the wake of the Singapore summit, China said the United Nations Security Council should revisit economic sanctions against the regime. Still, China believed that sanctions relief should be tied to North Korea’s progress on denuclearisation, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported on Wednesday, citing a briefing by an unnamed Chinese official. In their talks in Beijing, Xi praised Kim for being proactive in realising the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
“We hope that both sides — the DPRK and the US — can implement the outcome of the summit, and relevant parties can work together to advance the peace process on the peninsula.” Xi said.
“China will continue to play a constructive role.”
The visit illustrated how far relations between China and Kim have improved since Kim’s decision earlier this year to open talks with South Korea and the US Until March, Xi and Kim had not yet met, even though they had both been in power for more than five years.
Kim said the two countries were now “as close and friendly as family,” according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency, and thanked Xi for his “affectionate care and support.”
China contributed the Air China Ltd. passenger jet the ferried Kim to and from the summit in Singapore.
Kim was expected to return to Pyongyang later on June 20.
Meanwhile, South Korea Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told reporters in Seoul that sanctions have cut off a “significant” part of North Korea’s economy and would remain in place until denuclearisation was “complete.”
She said she expected commitments to denuclearisation and peace to proceed expeditiously.