BEIJING, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un began a two-day visit to Beijing on Tuesday in what analysts believe is a trip to brief his sole major ally on his unprecedented summit with US President Donald Trump and seek consensus on negotiations with Washington.
The outing comes as China has sought to strengthen its role as a mediator between the US and North Korea, where Beijing claims compelling security and economic interests.
The North's leader, who is believed to have landed in the Chinese capital Tuesday morning, was expected to head to the Great Hall of the People to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, though no official agenda was released.
Dozens of security vans, police cars and armoured vehicles lined streets around Beijing's Diaoyutai State Guesthouse - where Kim had stayed in his previous visit.
A motorcade accompanying a black limousine was seen leaving the compound late Tuesday afternoon as police cleared the way.
The visit comes as the United States, which relies on China to enforce sanctions against Pyongyang, stands on the brink of a potential trade war with Beijing, adding an extra layer of uncertainty and a possible pressure point to be exploited by North Korea's powerful ally.
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV reported that Kim would be in Beijing through Wednesday.
"We hope this visit will help deepen the China-DPRK relations and strengthen our strategic communication on major issues to promote regional peace and stability," foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing.
The visit is the North Korean autocrat's third to China since March, when he made his inaugural foreign trip as leader.
Previous trips had been kept secret until Kim returned home. It was not clear why Chinese state media broke with the precedent.
In addition to discussing last week's summit, Kim is expected to ask China for help in easing economic sanctions, in return for his pledge to denuclearise, according to Wang Dong, an international relations expert at Peking University.
"The Chinese and North Korean leaders are carrying out consultations on how to jointly move the Korean nuclear issue forward."
Following the historic US-North Korea summit in Singapore a week ago, China suggested the UN Security Council could consider easing the economic restrictions on its Cold War-era ally.
China may not have been at the table for the historic summit in Singapore but it retains strong influence behind the scenes, Dong said. The visit shows that China is "key" to the talks, Wang said.
"It reflects that China is indispensible to the entire Korean nuclear issue."
BEIJING, June 19, 2018 (News Wires) - North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Beijing Tuesday morning, where he will likely brief Chinese President Xi Jinping on his summit with US President Donald Trump last week, as Washington and Seoul agreed to suspend a major joint military exercise.
This is Kim’s third trip to China this year, coming less than a week after he met Trump in Singapore for historic talks.
Following the Singapore summit, Trump agree to work with Kim toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, committed to provide the North’s regime with security guarantees and pledged to end “war games”, which Pyongyang and Beijing have long seen as provocative.
In an unusual move, Chinese state media announced Kim’s visit and said he would stay for two days. Previously China would only confirm Kim had visited after he had left the country. No other details were provided.
A Kim trip to China to discuss his summit with Trump had been widely anticipated in diplomatic circles. China is North Korea’s most important diplomatic and economic backer but has been angered by Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.
Police tightened security along Beijing’s main Changan Avenue, which leads to the Great Hall of the People where Chinese leaders normally meet visiting heads of state, and also outside the Diaoyutai State Guest House, where Kim stayed with his wife during his March visit to Beijing.
By the Gazette Editorial Board
Without allegedly receiving concrete and reciprocal pledges, US President Donald Trump is said to have offered major concessions to North Korea after his historical meeting with its leader Kim Jong-un.
Emerging from the meeting held in a luxury hotel in Singapore, Trump pledged to end joint military games with South Korea. He, moreover, described these games as ‘provocative’ and ‘tremendously expensive’.
He said he also hoped to “bring home” the 32,000 US troops stationed in South Korea at some point in the future, but acknowledged such a move was not “part of the equation right now”.
Trump seemed to have appreciated that North Korea, which had already begun dismantling a major missile engine testing site, needed time to conclude denuclearisation.
The world held its breath in agony when – weeks before the historical summit would take place – these war games provoked the ire of the North Korean leader and prompted him to threaten that he would not leave Pyongyang on June 12.
Retaliating, the US President tweeted that he had no wish any longer to hold such a summit as long as the North Koreans refused to stop using tough language and threats.
Fortunately, before little time had passed the world was encouraged to heave a deep sigh of relief by a statement tweeted by Trump that preparations to meet the North Korean leader were working out well.
Regardless of the contradictory assessments of Trump-Kim summit, the big success the two leaders seem to have achieved was the construction of mutual trust following their ceremonial hand-shake and their ‘constructive’ talks in Singapore.
Mr Trump told reporters that he trusted Mr Kim and that he believed the North Korean leader was sincere about his desire for denuclearisation.
In a press conference lasting more than an hour, Trump said the meetings went “better than anybody could have expected”. The US President also described his meeting with Kim as ‘going great’ and that they had a really fantastic meeting.
Kim had also asserted that Trump was different from his predecessors, who were not sincere in their peaceful approach to Pyongyang.
Kim would not praise Trump and his qualities without that kind of mutual trust between them. Reciprocating, Trump praised Kim as “very talented”.
Building trust with each other among the world’s leaders can make the world less volatile and more co-operative. Trust is the catalyst of successful diplomacy.
SEOUL, June 14, 2018 (News Wires) - Tough sanctions will remain on North Korea until its complete denuclearization, the U.S. secretary of state said on Thursday, apparently contradicting the North’s view that the process agreed at this week’s summit would be phased and reciprocal.
U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a joint statement after their Singapore meeting that reaffirmed the North’s commitment to “work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”, an end to joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises and gave U.S. guarantees of security to North Korea.
“President Trump has been incredibly clear about the sequencing of denuclearisation and relief from the sanctions,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters after meeting South Korea’s president and Japan’s foreign minister in Seoul.
“We are going to get complete denuclearisation; only then will there be relief from the sanctions,” he said.
North Korean state media reported on Wednesday Kim and Trump had recognised the principle of “step-by-step and simultaneous action” to achieve peace and denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.
The summit statement provided no details on when Pyongyang would give up its nuclear weapons program or how the dismantling might be verified.
Skeptics of how much the meeting achieved pointed to the North Korean leadership’s long-held view that nuclear weapons are a bulwark against what it fears are U.S. plans to overthrow it and unite the Korean peninsula.
However, South Korean President Moon Jae-In said the world, through the summit, had escaped the threat of war, echoing Trump’s upbeat assessment of his meeting with Kim.
“There have been many analyses on the outcome of the summit but I think what’s most important was that the people of the world, including those in the United States, Japan and Koreans, have all been able to escape the threat of war, nuclear weapons and missiles,” Moon told Pompeo.
Pompeo insisted Pyongyang was committed to giving up its nuclear arsenal but said it would “be a process, not an easy one”.
Kim Jong Un understood getting rid of his nuclear arsenal needed to be done quickly and there would only be relief from stringent U.N. sanctions on North Korea after its “complete denuclearisation”, Pompeo said.
SINGAPORE, June 12, 2018 (News Wires) - US sanctions on North Korea will remain in place despite the signing of a new agreement between Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the US president told journalists in Singapore on Tuesday.
Trump’s statement came just hours after the two leaders signed a pact which included a pledge to work towards “complete denuclearisation” on the Korean peninsula.
Trump said he believed his North Korean counterpart would live up to the agreement. But “in the meantime the sanctions will remain in effect,” he said.
The US president said the summit marked a “great moment in the history of the world”.
The agreement with North Korea did not currently envision removing the 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea.
However, Mr Trump signalled he favoured a long-term plan to reduce US troop numbers from South Korea and said the US “will be stopping the war games” - a reference to the regular US joint military exercises with South Korea, and a huge concession to the North Korean leader.
“We will be stopping the war games which will save us a tremendous amount of money. It is very provocative,” he said.
The president also stressed that denuclearisation would be verifiable by international and US experts.
The leaders have agreed to have follow-on negotiations led by Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, and a senior North Korean official.
SINGAPORE, June 11, 2018 (News Wires) - US President Donald Trump said on Monday his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore could “work out very nicely” as officials from both countries met to narrow differences on how to end a nuclear stand-off on the Korean peninsula.
Kim and Trump arrived in the tropical city-state on Sunday for the first ever face-to-face meeting by leaders of two countries that have been enemies since the 1950-1953 Korean War.
With gaps remaining over what denuclearisation would entail, officials from both sides held two hours of talks to push the agenda forward ahead of Tuesday’s summit.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the meetings were “substantive and detailed” but there was no immediate word on what the outcome was.
Trump sounded a positive note in a lunch meeting with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
“We’ve got a very interesting meeting in particular tomorrow, and I just think it’s going to work out very nicely,” Trump said.
He also told Lee: “We appreciate your hospitality and professionalism and friendship...You’re my friend.”
Trump and Kim are staying in separate hotels in the famous Orchard Road area of Singapore, dotted with high-rise luxury apartment blocks, offices and glittering shopping malls. Traffic was held up in the steamy midday sun and scores of bystanders were penned in by police when Trump went to meet Lee.
Similar scenes were seen on Sunday when Kim and Trump arrived in the city, and when Kim went to meet Lee. Entry to their hotels is extremely restricted.
Commenting for the first time on the summit, North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency earlier said the two sides would exchange “wide-ranging and profound views” to re-set relations. It heralded the summit as part of a “changed era”.
Discussions would focus on “the issue of building a permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism on the Korean peninsula, the issue of realising the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and other issues of mutual concern,” KCNA said.
In the lead up to the summit, North Korea rejected any unilateral nuclear disarmament, and KCNA’s reference to denuclearisation of the peninsula has historically meant that Pyongyang wants the United States to remove its “nuclear umbrella” protecting South Korea and Japan.
Pompeo said in an earlier tweet that Washington was “committed to the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.
Many experts on North Korea, one of the most insular and unpredictable countries in the world, remain skeptical Kim will ever completely abandon nuclear weapons. They believe Kim’s latest engagement is aimed at getting the United States to ease the crippling sanctions that have squeezed the impoverished country.
A Trump administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the US side was entering the talks with a sense of optimism and an equal dose of scepticism given North Korea’s long history of developing nuclear weapons.
“We will not be surprised by any scenario,” said the official.
The official said Trump and Kim would hold a one-on-one meeting on Tuesday that could last up to two hours. He described it as a “get to know you plus” meeting.
Later, a meeting including officials could last another hour.
The summit’s venue is the Capella hotel on Sentosa, a resort island off Singapore’s port with luxury hotels, a Universal Studios theme park and man-made beaches.
Trump, speaking in Canada on Saturday, said any agreement at the summit would be “spur of the moment,” underscoring the uncertain outcome of what he called a “mission of peace”.
He initially touted the potential for a grand bargain with North Korea to rid itself of a nuclear missile program that has advanced rapidly to threaten the United States.
But he has since lowered expectations, backing away from an original demand for North Korea’s swift denuclearisation.
He has said the talks would be more about starting a relationship with Kim for a negotiating process that would take more than one summit.