Kim Visits Beijing, as South Korea, US Halt Drill

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Beijing on March 27.Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Beijing on March 27.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Beijing on Tuesday, where he was likely to brief Chinese President Xi Jinping on his summit with US President Donald Trump last week, as Washington and Seoul agreed to suspend a major joint military exercise.  This is Kim’s third trip to China this year, coming a week after he met Trump in Singapore for historic talks, Reuters reported.

Trump agreed to work with Kim toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, committed to provide the North with security guarantees and pledged to end “war games” with South Korea, which North Korea and China have long seen as provocative. South Korea and the Pentagon announced they would halt the annual Freedom Guardian military drill scheduled for August.

“We hope this visit can help to further deepen China-North Korea relations, strengthen strategic communication between both countries on important issues and promote regional peace and stability,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular briefing. He did not elaborate.

A Kim trip to China to discuss his summit with Trump had been widely anticipated in diplomatic circles. China is North Korea’s most important diplomatic and economic backer but has been angered by its nuclear and missile tests. South Korea’s foreign ministry spokesman said South Korea and China shared the strategic goal of completely denuclearizing the Korean peninsula. “Our government hopes China will play a constructive role in resolving this problem,” ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-deok told a regular briefing. “We hope Chairman Kim Jong-un’s visit will contribute to that.”

“South Korea and the United States have agreed to suspend all planning activities regarding the Freedom Guardian military drill scheduled for August,” South Korea’s defense ministry said in a statement. The Pentagon confirmed the suspension, adding in a statement there would be a meeting of the secretaries of defense and state as well as Trump’s national security adviser on the issue this week.

Chinese spokesman Geng welcomed the announcement as a “positive, constructive” move.

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