11 July 2024

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed that amid “serious and complicated” international affairs strengthening bilateral ties was good for both countries and regional peace, North Korean state media KCNA said on Friday.

Xi arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday for a two-day visit aimed at bolstering an ally under pressure from U.N. sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs and a breakdown in denuclearization talks with the United States.

The visit, the first by a Chinese leader in 14 years, comes a week before Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump meet at the G20 summit in Osaka amid an ongoing trade dispute.

Kim said Xi’s visit, which may see China bring fresh support for North Korea’s floundering, sanctions-bound economy, was “crucial” to show the world the unchanging friendship between the two countries, KCNA said.

China is the North’s only major ally.

Xi said Beijing and Pyongyang agreed that a political settlement of the Korean Peninsula’s nuclear issue has been “an inevitable trend,” and that they need to continue to stick to peace talks, according to China’s Xinhua.

The two leaders agreed to have close strategic communication and deepen cooperation in various fields, KCNA said.

On Thursday, Xi praised Pyongyang’s efforts towards denuclearization and said the world hopes North Korea and the United States can talk to each other and for those talks to be successful.

Since a failed summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi earlier this year, Pyongyang has conducted some weapons tests and warned of “truly undesired consequences” if the United States is not more flexible.

At a dinner banquet on Thursday, Xi said China firmly supported Kim seeking a political solution to the Korean Peninsula issue and the establishment of a great environment for self-development via “a new strategic route”, according to KCNA.

Reflecting the close bond between China and North Korea, Xi viewed a mass gymnastics and arts performance titled “Undefeated Socialism” with Kim at the May Day stadium on Thursday evening.

KCNA said the performance was specially prepared for the Chinese goodwill visit and included songs such as “Without the Communist Party, there is no new China” and “I love you, China”.