Kim Jong Un is willing to talk with US President Donald Trump about giving up his nuclear weapons, China said, after the North Korean leader made a surprise visit to Beijing to patch up ties with his neighbor.
Kim expressed an openness to US talks during meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the official Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday, in what was his first foreign trip since taking power in 2011. North Korean state media reports also confirmed Kim’s visit -- and his return to Pyongyang -- without mentioning denuclearization or the potential Trump summit.
“North Korea sees an opportunity with these summits to message to the world that it’s not isolated and that it has diplomatic options,” Mintaro Oba, a former US State Department official who worked on North Korean issues, said by email. “The Kim-Xi summit is the latest step in that game.”
Kim’s clandestine visit -- Chinese officials refused for two days to confirm reports of his motorcade and train movements -- shakes up the diplomatic landscape ahead of a potential meeting by the end of May with Trump. Chinese media reports included Kim’s first public remarks indicating he’d discuss his nuclear arsenal with Trump, who has upended decades of US policy by agreeing to meet the North Korean leader without a clear disarmament plan.
“The issue of denuclearization of the Korean peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace,” Kim said, according to Xinhua.