Kim, Xi agree to grow ties whatever external situation

Kim shakes hands with Xi in Beijing, as he paid an unofficial visit to China, in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. (Reuters pic)

SEOUL: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and China’s President Xi Jinping reached a consensus on “important issues,” and agreed to build on their countries’ friendly relations “whatever the international situation,” North Korean state media reported.

Xi left the North Korean capital Pyongyang on Friday after a two-day visit, the first by a Chinese leader in 14 years. State-run news agency KCNA issued a report on Saturday of the results of the visit.

China is North Korea’s only major ally and Xi’s visit was aimed at bolstering the isolated country against pressure from United Nations sanctions over its nuclear and missile programmes and stalled denuclearisation talks with the United States.

The visit comes a week before Xi and US President Donald Trump are due to meet at a Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, amid a trade dispute that has rattled global financial markets.

KCNA reported that during a luncheon on the final day of Xi’s visit the leaders discussed plans to strengthen collaboration, as well as their countries’ “major internal and external policies”, while exchanging views on domestic and international issues of mutual concern.

An editorial in the official China Daily on Saturday warned that Xi’s short visit to Pyongyang would not solve all the region’s problems, but pledges to help develop the North Korean economy were the right way forward.

“The world may hope that the Chinese leader has the magic touch that can turn a stone to gold, but it is unrealistic to expect that Xi can solve all the peninsula issues with a two-day visit – even if Beijing has always been the most reliable and considerate partner to Pyongyang,” it said.

“Yet Xi has touched the right stone by focusing on economic cooperation to help bring the DPRK in from the cold,” it added.