BEIJING (AP) — China says its foreign minister has met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a visit to Pyongyang, underscoring the vast improvement in relations between the neighbors.
The Foreign Ministry announced the meeting in a one-line statement on its official microblog Thursday but gave no details.
Earlier it quoted Foreign Minister Wang Yi as telling his North Korean counterpart on Wednesday that China fully backs the North’s efforts to develop its economy following the imposition of United Nations sanctions that have cut trade between them by around 90 percent.
Kim in March made his first visit to Beijing since taking power six years ago, kicking off a flurry of diplomacy followed by his meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in last week. A meeting between Kim and President Donald Trump has been proposed for this month.
China has long called for dialogue between the parties and welcomed the Koreas’ summit as a vehicle for reducing tensions. Analysts say China’s sanctions implementation may have helped prompt the North’s diplomatic initiatives although the secretive regime in Pyongyang has made no public comments on the issue.
China says sanctions imposed over the North’s nuclear bomb and ballistic missile programs are intended to further diplomacy rather than punish the North. Beijing opposes any measures that could topple the regime, possibly bringing a tide of refugees across its border and leading to the stationing of U.S. and South Korea troops in the North.
Wang was quoted in the Foreign Ministry statement as telling North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho that China treasured traditional relations and applauded recent moves to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
China is willing to work with Pyongyang to boost "practical economic and trade cooperation" and fully supported the North in "concentrating its strength to carry out economic construction," Wang was quoted as saying.