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Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping met for the second time this year on Monday and Tuesday in the Chinese city of Dalian, Beijing’s Xinhua news agency confirmed on Tuesday.
The news confirms speculation of a high-level visit to China by a delegation from the DPRK, following Japanese broadcaster NHK’s publishing footage of Kim’s personal jet and an Air Koryo cargo plane in Dalian on Tuesday.
“Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chinese president, met Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), in Dalian, northeast China’s Liaoning Province, on May 7-8,” the Xinhua report read.
“Xi held talks with Kim and hosted a welcome banquet for him,” it continued. “Together, they also took a stroll and attended a luncheon.”
“In a cordial and friendly atmosphere, the top leaders of the two parties and the two countries had an all-round and in-depth exchange of views on China-DPRK relations and major issues of common concern.”
The People’s Daily – the official organ of China’s Communist Party – also reported details of the conversation between the two leaders.
The newspaper reported that Kim told Xi that denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was achievable as long as relevant parties eliminate hostile policies and security threats toward the DPRK.
It also reported that Kim said this should be done in a “step-by-step” and “synchronized” manner.
The news was also confirmed by the South Korean Presidential office, which said that it was informed of the visit in advance and that Kim had been in China for two days and one night.
Kim Jong Un is reported to have returned to Pyongyang today.
The second meeting between the two leaders follows a summit hosted by Xi in Beijing in late March – a visit to China which represented Kim’s first overseas trip since assuming power in late 2011.
Kim also technically traveled to South Korea on April 27 for a meeting with ROK President Moon Jae-in at Panmunjom for the first inter-Korean summit since 2007.
While Monday’s trip to Dalian represents his second visit to China and third foreign trip, it appears that it was the first conducted via air with Kim’s personal jet present at Dalian airport.
March saw Kim visit Beijing via armored train, having transited through the Sino-DPRK border town of Dandong.
This week’s summit also comes less than a week after a visit to North Korea by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi.
That meeting saw Wang – the most high-profile Chinese official to visit the DPRK in several years – meet with Kim Jong Un.
Kim is also scheduled to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in either late May or early June at a location that has been agreed upon – according to Trump – but as yet has not been made public.
The DPRK’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Tuesday that accompanying Kim on his visit were chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) Ri Su Yong, director of the United Front Department of the WPK Central Committee Kim Yong Chol, and DPRK foreign minister Ri Yong Ho.
Also joining the delegation were Kim Jong Un’s high-profile sister Kim Yo Jong and vice foreign minister Choe Son Hui – her first major visit abroad since a promotion in February.
Ri Su Yong, Kim Yong Chol, and Ri Yong Ho also accompanied Kim on his first visit to Beijing in late March.
The summit was held on Monday afternoon in the presence of Ri Su Yong, Kim Yong Chol, and Ri Yong Ho on the DPRK side and Song Tao, Wang Yi, and others from the PRC.
Kim Jong Un’s private jet arrived on Monday at noon at an international airport in Dalian, KCNA also reported.
“There was an exchange of in-depth opinions on the issue of promoting the DPRK-China friendship more greatly as well as the solutions to significant issues of mutual interest,” the KCNA report on the meeting read.
“The Dear Respected Supreme Leader analyzed and assessed the development of the circumstances surrounding the Korean peninsula where serious changes have occurred,” it continued, saying the two leaders had agreed to “strengthen the tactical cooperation between the DPRK and China more meticulously and actively.”
The Chinese President, in turn, was reported to have praised Kim’s visit as showing his “sincere intention to implement agreements between us” – a potential reference to a number of agreements made by the two leaders earlier in the year.
“Comrade Xi Jinping said he consistently strives for peace and stabilization in the region, having a great interest in the developments… on the Korean peninsula as a friendly neighboring country,” KCNA said.
“[Xi] highly appreciated crucial resolutions (or determinations) and measures recently taken by comrade Kim Jong Un and reaffirmed his full support.”
President Trump took to social media on Tuesday to also announce that he would be speaking with Xi following Kim’s visit.
“I will be speaking to my friend, President Xi of China, this morning at 8:30. The primary topics will be Trade, where good things will happen, and North Korea, where relationships and trust are building,” the President tweeted.
Xi is also expected to visit the DPRK in the coming months, having accepted an invitation to do so from Kim at the Beijing summit earlier in the year.
Additional reporting by Dagyum Ji
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: KCNA