Xi concludes North Korea visit after pushing denuclearisation agenda

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Seoul – Chinese President Xi Jinping and his delegation left North Korea for Beijing on Friday, marking the end of the first official visit by Xi to the isolated nation, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greeted Xi with a lavish ceremony in Pyongyang on Thursday.

The ensuing talks reportedly saw Xi urging Kim to move forward on denuclearisation, after a summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump failed in February in Vietnam.

The U.S. wants North Korea to fully denuclearise before it lifts sanctions, while Kim has called for a step-by-step model, in which Pyongyang takes some action to get rid of nuclear weapons in return for the lifting of some sanctions.

Chinese broadcaster CCTV reported that Xi told Kim during their talks that the international community expected both North Korea and the U.S. to be transparent about the results of their negotiations.

China has advocated for a “dual suspension’’ approach in which North Korea stops developing its nuclear weapons in return for the U.S. halting military exercises aimed at the North.

China is North Korea’s main ally and trading partner, though their relations have been strained since Kim came to power in 2011 and proceeded to test nuclear weapons.

However ties started to thaw last year, with Kim making his first trip abroad as a leader to China, in March 2018. He has visited China three other times since.

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