Xi Jinping arrives in North Korea | News | DW | 20.06.2019
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Xi Jinping arrives in North Korea

Chinese President Xi Jinping became the first leader of his country to travel to Pyongyang in 14 years. The trip comes as he and Kim Jong Un seek to improve bilateral relations.

Watch video 01:19

China's Xi arrives in North Korea for state visit

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in North Korea on Thursday to meet with leader Kim Jong Un, as negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington over the North's nuclear program appear to be at a standstill.

China's official Xinhua News Agency confirmed the president's arrival, noting that the trip was set to last two days and that he was accompanied by his wife, Peng Liyuan, along with several Communist Party officials.

The visit is the first by a Chinese president to the reclusive nation in 14 years. Xi and Kim have sought to repair the bilateral relationship between their countries, which had deteriorated over Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions and Beijing's backing of UN sanctions.

As a result, the North Korean leader traveled to China four times in the past year.

'Timely visit'

"North Korea's denuclearization is in the interest of China. Stability on the Korean Peninsula is economically beneficial for Beijing," Wang Sheng, a professor at the Jilin University in Changchun, China, told DW.

"Xi's visit to North Korea is very timely. He can facilitate denuclearization by first meeting Kim and then holding talks with US President Trump and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in at the upcoming G20 summit," Wang said, adding that all parties want to move forward.

Read more: Xi Jinping will be restricted in his maneuvers

An 'irreplaceable friendship'

In a rare opinion piece published in North Korea's official newspaper on Wednesday, Xi praised the "irreplaceable" friendship between Beijing and Pyongyang.

He also vowed that China would play an active role in "strengthening communication and coordination with North Korea and other relevant parties," in a subtle nod to the current nuclear talks between North Korea and the US.

Furthermore, Xi stressed that North Korea was moving in the "right direction" by resolving issues on the peninsula politically.

Read moreChina: Thousands of North Korean women forced into prostitution: report

The Rodong Sinmun newspaper, a publication of the North Korean ruling party, said the trip would "engrave a new, enduring page in the history of DPRK-China friendship," referring to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the country's official name.

"The visit to our country that comes despite the emergence of urgent and important tasks due to complex international relations clearly shows that the Chinese party and government are putting high importance on the DPRK-China friendship," the editorial read.

Watch video 01:41

Chinese tourism to North Korea at 'record high'

shs,jcg/se (Reuters, AP, AFP)

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