President Xi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are meeting in Pyongyang Thursday after Xi became the first Chinese leader in 14 years to visit North Korea. And although nobody could say for sure what the two would be discussing, most believed that their mutual difficulties with Washington would likely be on the agenda.
Earlier, Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan along with several senior Chinese officials, were greeted with a 21-gun salute during a massive ceremony at the airport. State media claimed that about 10,000 people stood in tight formation, waving flowers and chanting slogans to welcome Xi. Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, met the visiting delegation at the airport.
A banner at the airport welcome ceremony read: “Long Live with Unbreakable Friendship and Unity Formed by Blood,” a declaration of the longstanding ‘friendship’ between the two Communist nations, according to the AP.
Xi is on a two-day visit to North Korea, though the meeting with Kim is probably the highlight from the visit.
A former North Korean diplomat who defected in 2016 said he thinks Kim wants to give Xi a message to give to Trump when the two leaders meet in Osaka next weekend.
Thae Yong Ho, the defector mentioned above, said that Kim may offer some kind of compromise on his nuclear facilities to set up a third summit with Trump. But Thae cautioned such a move would only buy time, and that NK has no plans to denuclearize. Thae spoke at a news conference in Tokyo while promoting the Japanese translation of his book.
Talks between the US and NK have been stalled since the Hanoi talks fell apart.
John Park, director of the Korea Project at Harvard Kennedy School, said the meeting could be “an opportunity for both sides.”
Some have speculated that Beijing could use its relationship with Pyongyang as leverage against Trump, but Park said he thinks that “ultimately what China is seeking to preserve” is a “dual freeze.”
Park explained that Beijing will want North Korea to stop testing nuclear missile trials; while also hoping that the US and South Korea will stop conducting large scale military exercises on the peninsula as well.