North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping met for the third time this year in Beijing on Tuesday, Chinese state media announced.
The news of the meeting followed reports earlier in the day confirming that Kim had traveled to China and that he would be in the country for two days.
Footage of a welcoming ceremony for Kim, broadcast by China Global Television Network (CGTN) on Tuesday, appears to show the DPRK leader accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju.
Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan was also in attendance.
Kim and Xi “had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on the current development of China-DPRK relations and the situation on the Korean Peninsula,” Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday.
“They agreed to safeguard, consolidate and develop China-DPRK relations, and jointly push forward the sound momentum of peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula to make a positive contribution to safeguarding world and regional peace, stability, prosperity and development,” it added.
Kim’s third visit this year to his northern neighbor comes a week after he met with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore, the first summit in history between a North Korean leader and a sitting U.S. President.
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) June 19, 2018
That meeting saw Kim and Trump sign a joint declaration that, among other things, reaffirmed Pyongyang’s commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and saw Washington promise security guarantees in return.
The declaration has been met with skepticism by some experts for its lack of concrete detail.
In the wake of criticism following the summit, the U.S. has maintained the Complete, Verifiable and Irreversible Denuclearization (CVID) of North Korea remains its goal and that the DPRK will take steps towards it.
Washington has also insisted that sanctions against North Korea will remain in place for the time being.
Both China and Russia have in the aftermath of the summit called for sanctions against North Korea to be relaxed, however.
Recent reports, too, hint that Beijing is increasingly loosening its enforcement of UN sanctions along the Sino-DPRK border – claims even alluded to by President Trump at a press conference following his meeting with Kim last week.
“[Xi] has really closed up that border,” the President said, in comments in which he thanked the Chinese President for his role in bringing Kim to the negotiating table. “Maybe a little less the last couple of months. That’s okay.”
Analysis of ship-tracking data by NK News‘s sister site NK Pro has in the past few weeks highlighted multiple DPRK-linked ships arriving at ports in China built to handle bulk commodities like iron and coal, goods sanctioned under UN measures.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: KCNA
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