With talks between the US and North Korea going nowhere fast, the reclusive regime’s Asian neighbors are stepping up efforts to improve relations and encourage Kin Jong-un to shelve his nuclear weapons.
Chinese President Xi Jinping — on the eve of his first visit to North Korea — vowed Wednesday to play a greater role in negotiations on Korean Peninsula issues, including denuclearization.
Xi made the pledge in an op-ed in the Rodong Sinmun, North Korea’s official newspaper to emphasize the friendly and close bilateral relations between the two countries, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.
“We will actively contribute to regional peace, stability, development and prosperity by strengthening communication and coordination with North Korea and other relevant parties to make progress in talks and negotiations on Korean Peninsula issues,” Xi said.
“Korean Peninsula issues” was believed to refer to the nuclear standoff between President Trump and the North.
Xi said China supports peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and resolving Pyongyang’s “reasonable issues of concern” through dialogue.
Meanwhile, South Korea said Wednesday it would send 50,000 tons of rice in aid to North Korea to help the impoverished state cope with its worsening food shortages, caused in part by crippling economic sanctions imposed by the US.
It was the first time South Korea agreed to provide rice to North Korea since 2010, when it sent 5,000 tons to support its efforts to recover from flood damage, Yonhap reported.
“We expect the food assistance to be delivered to the North Korean people as soon as possible,” Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul told reporters.
Trump said Tuesday he would meet Xi at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, later this month.
Talks between Trump and Kim over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program went south after a second summit in February in Hanoi.
US officials in recent weeks have signaled diplomatic efforts could resume but have given no details.
Trump said this week he received a “beautiful” letter from Kim but was in no rush for a deal.
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