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China’s Xi says world hopes N.Korea-US talks can succeed

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Chinese President visits North Korea to bolster long-time ally hit by UN sanctions

BEIJING : The world hopes North Korea and the United States can talk to each other and for those talks to be successful, Chinese President Xi Jinping told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un yesterday, praising Pyongyang's efforts towards denuclearisation.

Mr Xi is visiting China's reclusive neighbour North Korea, seeking to bolster a long-time ally hit by UN sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes, a week before Mr Xi and US President Donald Trump meet amid a bitter trade dispute.

Mr Xi, whose entourage includes the head of China's state economic planner, will be in North Korea for two days, the first Chinese leader to visit in 14 years, and could bring fresh support measures for its floundering, sanctions-bound economy.

Mr Kim and his wife, Ms Ri Sol Ju, greeted Mr Xi at the airport, Chinese state TV said.

Mr Kim's sister, Ms Kim Yo Jong, and officials who played prominent roles in recent nuclear talks with the US were also on hand.

Mr Xi was driven through Pyongyang in a convertible car, standing with Mr Kim at his side, and greeted warmly by cheering crowds on his way to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, a complex that serves as the mausoleum for North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung, the report said.

Mr Xi told Mr Kim he had come to consolidate a traditional friendship which will not be shaken no matter what happens on the international stage and to promote the political process for a resolution of the Korean peninsula issue, it added.

Mr Xi "positively appraised" North Korea's efforts to safeguard peace and stability on the peninsula and promote denuclearisation, state television said.

"The situation on the Korean peninsula concerns regional peace and stability," the report paraphrased Mr Xi as telling Mr Kim at their formal meeting.

"The international community hopes that North Korea and the United States can talk and for the talks to get results."

Since a failed summit between US President Donald Trump and Mr Kim in Hanoi earlier this year, Pyongyang has resumed some weapons tests and warned of "truly undesired consequences" if the US is not more flexible.

The trip is also an assertion of a key leverage point that China has in its deteriorating relationship with the US, diplomats said.

"Comrade Xi Jinping is visiting... in the face of crucial and grave tasks due to complex international relations, which clearly shows the Chinese party and the government place high significance on the friendship," the North's official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.

The trip highlights two-way ties that "never waver despite any headwinds," and strengthens "blood ties" between the two peoples, it added. - REUTERS