Chinese President Xi Jinping praised visiting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for the “positive” outcome of his historic summit with US President Donald Trump and promied unwavering friendship, Reuters reports.
Meeting Kim on his third trip to China this year, and just a week after Kim met Trump in Singapore on June 12, Xi said China was willing to keep playing a positive role to promote the peace process on the Korean peninsula.
Kim’s visit was the latest in a flurry of diplomatic contacts, and unlike during his previous two visits to China, the government announced his presence while he was in the country rather than waiting for him to leave.
Xi told Kim he was very happy to see the “positive” outcome of his meeting with Trump, and the important consensus reached on denuclearization and setting up a lasting peace mechanism, according to Chinese state television.
“No matter the changes in the international and regional situation, China’s party and government’s resolute position on being dedicated to consolidating and developing Sino-North Korea relations will not change,” the report cited Xi as saying.
“The Chinese people’s friendship for the North Korean people will not change, and China’s support for socialist North Korea will not change,” Xi added.
Kim told Xi he hoped to work with China and other parties to push the peace process, Chinese state television said.
Asked about Kim’s latest Beijing visit, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said, “We are watching it closely.”
She said Washington was in continuing communication with the North Korea government and added: “We look forward to them following through on their commitments and agreements that they made last week at the summit.”
At the Singapore summit, the first meeting between a serving US president and a North Korean leader, Kim reaffirmed a commitment to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”, while Trump said he would end “provocative” joint US-South Korean military exercises.
Although Trump has hailed the Singapore summit as a success, skeptics have questioned whether he achieved anything new, given that Pyongyang, which has rejected unilateral nuclear disarmament, appeared to make no new concrete commitments.
Handover of troops’ remains
In Washington, two US officials told Reuters that North Korea could start the process of handing over the remains of troops, including Americans, missing from the Korean War within the next few days.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said North Korea would hand over the remains to United Nations Command in South Korea, and they would then be transferred to Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii.
One official said “a sizable number” of remains were expected to be handed over, but declined to give a specific number given Kim’s unpredictability.
It could take months or even years before the remains are positively identified, the officials added.
About 7,700 US military personnel remain unaccounted from the 1950-1953 Korean War, US military data shows.
According to the Pentagon, North Korean officials have indicated in the past that they have the remains of as many as 200 US troops. More than 36,500 US troops died in the conflict.
The remains of some US soldiers were last returned in 2007, when then-New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson visited Pyongyang.
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