S. Korea leader urges denuclearization steps from North
Beijing – South Korea’s president urged North Korea on Wednesday to present a plan with concrete steps toward denuclearization, raising the pressure on its leader Kim Jong Un during his visit to Beijing to discuss the outcome of his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Kim left for Pyongyang later in the day after making his third visit to China this year, according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency, underscoring the major improvement in relations between the communist neighbors.
Xinhua said Kim met Chinese President Xi Jinping for a second day of talks on Wednesday and cited Kim as saying the visit was an opportunity to “deepen the friendship” between the two leaders and advance bilateral ties.
Kim earlier visited an agricultural technology park and rail traffic control center, accompanied by Beijing’s top official, Cai Qi, Xinhua said.
Kim’s motorcade was seen leaving the North Korean Embassy on Wednesday afternoon as police closed off major roads and intersections in central Beijing. Gawking pedestrians watched the passing motorcade that included Kim’s limousine – a black Mercedes-Benz Maybach with gold emblems on the rear doors – as well as several minibuses and 15 motorcycle police clad in white suits.
The motorcade traveled to Beijing’s airport, where the limousine entered the charter flight terminal.
In Seoul, South Korean President Moon Jae-in urged North Korea to present actionable plans on how it will scrap its nuclear program, and for the United States to swiftly take unspecified corresponding measures.
“It’s necessary for North Korea to present far more concrete denuclearization plans, and I think it’s necessary for the United States to swiftly reciprocate by coming up with comprehensive measures,” Moon said. Moon’s office said he made the remarks to Russian media ahead of his trip to Moscow later this week.
Moon, who has met with Kim twice in recent months, said the North Korean leader is willing to give up his nuclear program and focus on economic development if he’s provided with a reliable security guarantee. Moon described Kim as “forthright,” “careful” and “polite.”
China backs the North’s call for a “phased and synchronous” approach to denuclearization, as opposed to Washington’s demand for an instant, total and irreversible end to the North’s nuclear programs.
A report by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said Kim expressed his gratitude to Chinese President Xi Jinping for China’s support when they met on Tuesday. KCNA said Kim told Xi at a welcoming banquet that North Korea-China ties are developing into “unprecedentedly special relations.”
At his summit with Trump last week in Singapore, Kim pledged to work toward denuclearization in exchange for U.S. security guarantees. The U.S. and South Korea also suspended a major joint military exercise that was planned for August in what was seen as a major victory for North Korea and its chief allies, China and Russia.
China has touted the prospects of more trade and investment if North Korea makes progress in talks on abandoning its nuclear weapons and long-range missile programs.
That could allow the lifting of U.N. Security Council economic sanctions that have hamstrung North Korea’s foreign trade, although the U.S. insists those measures can only be eased after the North shows it has ended its nuclear programs. The U.S. says China is in agreement on that point, although Chinese officials say sanctions should not be an end in themselves.
Associated Press journalists Sam McNeil and Gerry Shih in Beijing and Hyung-jin Kim and Yong Jun Chang in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.
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