Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday his country is willing to work with Pyongyang to “preserve peace and stability” on the Korean Peninsula, in a message to leader Kim Jong Un reported in state media.
Xi’s remarks, conveyed in an exchange with Pyongyang’s ambassador to China, come shortly after US President Joe Biden’s top envoys held talks in Seoul, drawing ire from North Korea.
Last week, the North accused the new US administration of adopting a “lunatic theory” toward it and ruled out any engagement with Washington unless it changed course on its policy.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin’s trip to East Asia had provoked Pyongyang’s first acknowledgement of the changing of the guard in Washington.
Kim also relayed a message to Xi – via the North Korean ambassador to an official, Xinhua said Monday – and expressed his country’s “unswerving position” to strengthen the relationship between both sides.
The exchange, the first reported between the two since January, comes after the Biden administration’s first talks with Beijing in Alaska.
Xi also said China was “willing to work with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and other related parties to uphold the political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue and preserve peace and stability on the peninsula,” Xinhua reported.
Talks between former US President Donald Trump and Kim deadlocked after their second summit in Hanoi in early 2019 broke up over sanctions relief and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.
The North remains subject to sanctions over its banned weapons programs, and it voluntarily closed its borders for over a year to try to protect itself against the coronavirus pandemic.
The new US administration is reviewing Washington’s policy toward the North, and after the US envoys met their South Korean counterparts, Blinken reiterated the US goal of “the denuclearization of North Korea.”