China says North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed during talks in Beijing to discuss denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
China’s official Xinhua news agency reported that Kim made an “unofficial” visit to the country.
The visit was not confirmed until Kim returned to North Korea on Wednesday. A special armored train carrying Kim secretly arrived in Beijing on Monday and left Tuesday.
Kim held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who had invited him to visit, Xinhua reported. The trip was believed to be Kim’s first visit to a foreign nation since taking power in 2011.
Kim traveled to China with his wife, Ri Sol Ju. The two attended a welcoming ceremony and had dinner inside Beijing’s Great Hall of the People with Xi and his wife, Xinhua reported.
Xi promised to work with North Korea to “make a new contribution to regional peace, stability and development,” the news agency said.
Kim told Xi North Korea had taken steps “to ease tensions and put forward proposals” for peace talks. "It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearization on the Peninsula…” Xinhua reported Kim as saying.
Kim also said North Korea was willing to negotiate with American officials and “hold a summit of the two countries.”
Xinhua reported that Kim said, "The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill…”
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Kim’s visit to China. But it did not report on his comments about denuclearization or upcoming summits.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is set to meet with Kim in late April.
United States officials say President Donald Trump also plans to meet with the North Korean leader before the end of May.
On Wednesday, Trump wrote on Twitter that Xi had informed him of the Kim's visit to China.
Trump wrote, “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.”
Trump added: “In the meantime, and unfortunately, maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost!”
In another tweet, Trump said that for years there had not been “even a small possibility” for peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. “Now there is a good chance that Kim Jong Un will do what is right for his people and for humanity."
A White House statement said U.S. officials saw the talks between Kim and Xi as more evidence that America’s campaign of “maximum pressure” on the North is working.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government was watching the China-North Korea relationship with "extreme interest." But, he said North Korea must provide concrete action – not just promises – before the international community can consider any easing of sanctions.
In the past, Xi also has expressed support for strong U.S.-led international sanctions on the North. The sanctions banned billions of dollars of North Korean coal, seafood and clothing. They are aimed at pressuring Kim to reenter talks on denuclearization.
In addition to agreeing to the summit meetings, Kim has taken other actions in recent months to reduce tensions. These included halting nuclear and missile tests and permitting North Korea to take part in the recent Winter Olympics held in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
I’m Ashley Thompson.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from VOA News, the Associated Press and Reuters. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
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Words in This Story
contribution – n. something done to help bring about some result
stability – n. a state of not being changed easily
consistent – adj. always behaving or happening in a similar way
summit – n. an important meeting between leaders
goodwill – n. friendly or helpful feelings towards other people
unfortunately – adv. word used to say something is bad or disappointing
maximum – adj. as great as possible; the most
sanctions – n. punishments usually in the form of trade restrictions meant to force a country to obey international law
concrete – adj. identifying something real or a group of things