Update 22:53 KST: Comments from Xi Jinping-RI Yong Ho meeting added.
The Chinese government on Friday reiterated its support for North Korea’s strategic shift towards domestic economic development during a meeting between the country’s two foreign ministers in Beijing.
Kim Jong Un in April announced at the 3rd Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) that North Korea would no longer test nuclear weapons and instead would turn its focus on building its “socialist economic system.”
Friday saw Wang reiterate China’s support for that plan, as well as Beijing’s commitment to improve ties between the two countries.
“The Third Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea has made a new strategic line decision, which fully conforms to the fundamental and long-term interests of the North Korean nation,” a Chinese foreign ministry readout issued following the talks said.
“China firmly supports the DPRK’s development path in line with its national conditions and supports the DPRK’s efforts to maintain stability, develop the economy, and improve people’s livelihood.”
And in a year dominated by diplomatic engagement, North Korea and China have maintained high-level contact throughout, with Friday’s talks representing the fifth time Wang and Ri have met.
Both ministers pledged to continue to engage and promote bilateral ties moving forward, with 2019 representing the 70th year of bilateral relations between the two.
Wang also said that China and North Korea should continue to work towards denuclearization and expressed hopes the U.S. and DPRK would maintain dialogue to this end.
“The DPRK’s commitment to the denuclearization of the peninsula and the maintenance of peace and stability on the peninsula has not changed,” Ri was reported as saying in the press release.
“It is hoped that the DPRK and the United States will establish the necessary mutual trust and work in tangency.”
Ri also met with Chinese President Xi Jinping briefly on Friday with the foreign ministry publishing an additional readout, largely containing diplomatic pleasantries. However, Xi also took time to comment that he would hope to see reciprocity between the U.S. and DPRK moving forward.
“It is hoped that the DPRK and the United States will move in the same direction and take care of each other’s legitimate concerns, so that the peace talks on the peninsula will continue to make positive progress,” the foreign ministry readout said.
Recent months have seen little progress made towards denuclearization, with the U.S. and DPRK reaching something of an impasse since a Singapore summit between DPRK leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in June.
A significant sticking point, North Korea has made clear, is the maintenance of sanctions against the country, which the U.S. insists must stay in place until denuclearization.
North Korea, on the other hand, has labeled sanctions an impediment to trust building, which it sees as a pre-requisite for moves towards disarming.
China, in turn, has pushed for economic cooperation and has also called for sanctions to be removed following North Korea’s diplomatic engagement efforts this year.
Recently, NK Pro reported that China has recently been upgrading infrastructure along the Sino-North Korea border in what appears to be preparations for increased trade.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured image: Chinese foreign ministry
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