May 09, 2018 09:22
A mysterious high-ranking official who visited the northern Chinese port of Dalian under massive security on Monday and Tuesday was North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He was there for a second meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping since a surprise visit to Beijing in March.
Like their first meeting it was kept secret until Kim had left. He flew to Dalian in his own jet, the first time a North Korean leader has visited a foreign country by plane since regime founder Kim Il-sung in 1986.
According to China's official CCTV, Kim and Xi exchanged views on the Korean Peninsula during a summit, lunch and dinner and a stroll. Xi expressed support for North Korea's willingness to denuclearize and efforts to solve issues on the peninsula through talks with the U.S.
Kim was quoted as saying "it has been [North Korea's] consistent and clear stand to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
"As long as relevant parties abolish their hostile policies and remove security threats against [North Korea], there is no need for [North Korea] to be a nuclear state and denuclearization can be realized," he added.
He laid the stress once again on gradual and phased denuclearization in response to Washington's demands for "permanent, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement" of his nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Kim is trying to perform a delicate balancing act between his country's old ally China on the one hand and the U.S. and South Korea on the other.
"Kim is trying to keep China close in an effort to respond to the U.S., which is getting tougher by demanding the permanent dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles," a diplomatic expert in Seoul said.
The meeting comes just before a trilateral summit between China, South Korea and Japan in Tokyo this weekend.
It closely resembled the protocol of the inter-Korean summit last month with luncheon, dinner and a private stroll by the two leaders on the beach of Banchuidao Island near Kim's quarters.
They walked side by side and sipped tea at an outdoor table, just as the leaders of the two Koreas did on the afternoon of their summit, the only difference being that Kim and Xi were accompanied by interpreters.
China beefed up security to the maximum, closing Dalian International Airport at least eight hours for two days.
Airport staff were banned from carrying their mobile phones, and the whole city was in virtual lockdown during Kim's stay, with armed police and armored vehicles deployed near the airport, railway stations and major buildings, and many locations throughout the city closed for traffic, according to a staffer of a South Korean company there.
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