March 29, 2018 09:16
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un told Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday, "The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved if South Korea and the U.S. respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability."
The Chinese Foreign Ministry quoted Kim as saying this requires "phased and simultaneous steps for peace."
This is the first time Kim has mentioned denuclearization. The "phased and simultaneous steps" sound like the old tactics of his father Kim Jong-il that involved gradual freezing and scrapping of the North's nuclear weapons in exchange for eased sanctions, economic aid and security guarantees by South Korea and the U.S. but saw North Korea renege on each of its promises.
Kim's chief aim seems to be to ease crippling international sanctions.
The U.S. is adamant that North Korea can be rewarded only after it takes clear steps to scrap its nuclear weapons, while the South Korean government proposes to deal with the nuclear issue and the establishment of a peace treaty in a package settlement.
Those differences bode ill for inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korean summits scheduled in April and May. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "Received message last night from Xi Jinping of China that his meeting with Kim Jong-un went very well and that Kim looks forward to his meeting with me."
But Trump added, "In the meantime, and unfortunately, maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost!" Kim's secretive China visit appears to have thawed chilled relations between the two allies.
The official [North] Korean Central News Agency said Xi "gladly" accepted Kim's invitation to Pyongyang.
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