Xi to visit North Korea before Trump meet

Xi’s sudden visit is the first by a Chinese President in 14 years to the North

By Jane Perlez/ New York Times News Service in Beijing
  • Published 18.06.19, 1:43 AM
  • Updated 18.06.19, 1:43 AM
  • a min read
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North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on June 19, 2018. (AP)

President Xi Jinping of China plans to visit North Korea later this week, his first trip there as President and a surprise move shortly before President Trump and Xi are expected to meet at an economic summit.

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, has visited China four times in the past year. But Xi, 66, who is one of the most travelled Chinese Presidents, has been reluctant to honour the 35-year-old Kim by going to the North, a country that is right next door to China.

China and North Korea have had a fraught relationship for decades, making Xi’s sudden visit, the first by a Chinese President in 14 years to the North, even more unforeseen.

Some Chinese analysts said they believed Xi was visiting the North to help revive the unsuccessful disarmament talks between Trump and Kim in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February. China’s state media said Xi would stay in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, for two days, on Thursday and Friday.

Xi could then deliver a plan for North Korea talks to Trump when they meet in Osaka, Japan, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit meeting on June 28, said Cheng Xiaohe, a North Korea expert at Renmin University in Beijing.

With tensions sky high between the US and China over trade, Xi could give Trump “a beautiful present” on resuming of talks over the North’s nuclear arsenal, Cheng said.

Other officials focused more on relations between China and North Korea.