Kim Jong Un held an unannounced meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday and Tuesday. News of the meeting came from China’s state broadcaster CCTV. The leaders met in Dalian, a port city less than 200 miles from North Korea’s border. The meeting is seen as an effort by China to assert its importance in the diplomatic activity happening now between North Korea and both South Korea and the United States and by North Korea as an effort to reassure them of their role and gain their support for talks with the U.S. The New York Post reports that it is the second meeting between the two leaders in less than two months, a sign of thawing tensions between the two leaders who had previously refused to meet since 2011 when Xi first took office. Kim Jong Un met with South Korean President Moon Jae-In about a month ago and is expected to meet with President Trump in late May or early June.
Kim stated during the visit that he hoped for “mutual trust and dialogue” between the United States and North Korea. He also expressed his willingness to discuss “phased and synchronous measures” toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Additional discussions about denuclearization in the area are scheduled to take place between Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang, Moon Jae-In, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan in Tokyo on Wednesday. Japan has encouraged President Trump to persist in their hard-line approach to North Korea, a position that The New York Times cites Rodong Sinmun, North Korea’s official newspaper as calling “tantamount to throwing cold water over easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.” Jae-In has indicated a willingness to provide North Korea with economic aid and expressed a desire for easing of tensions between Kim Jong Un and Shinzo Abe, writing to the Japanese newspaper, “If Japan-North Korea relations are normalized, that would greatly contribute to peace and security in Northeast Asia beyond the Korean Peninsula.”
Kim Jong In and Moon Jae-In released what they called the Panmunjom Declaration as a result of their April meeting. In that declaration, they both committed to a treaty that will bring a formal end to the Korean War and ending all hostilities on the Korean Peninsula by the end of this year.