March 13, 2018 10:26
National Security Council chief Chung Eui-yong on Monday briefed Chinese leaders on his recent meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Chung met with President Xi Jinping, State Councilor Yang Jiechi and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, demonstrating the importance Beijing places on developments. He also briefed Xi on his recent trip to Washington to arrange a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim.
Xi praised Chung for achieving "positive results" and added that China "actively supports" improving relations between the two Koreas as well as dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea.
"We look forward to the smooth [talks between the two Koreas] and dialogue between North Korea and the U.S.," Xi was quoted as saying. Xi told Chung that this would lead to a "thaw in ice and the arrival of spring" on the Korean Peninsula.
Chung said Moon is hoping for a "continued active role by China" in engaging North Korea and invited Xi to Seoul.
Earlier, Chung met with Yang at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, and Wang hosted a dinner for him.
China's warm welcome to Chung, which contrasts starkly with the lackluster protocol during Moon's own visit in December last year, reflects an increasing sense of unease in Beijing over the U.S.-North Korea summit.
Until now, China has played the key role in mediating the North Korean nuclear standoff, but now its role is rapidly being diminished and it needs Seoul to gauge what is going on with its buffer state.
Chung flies to Moscow on Tuesday but may not get to meet President Vladimir Putin, who is preparing for presidential elections later this month.
National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon, who visited North Korea with Chung, is in Japan and has already met Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono. He meets with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday.
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