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Xi told Kim China hopes US, N. Korea will ‘meet halfway’: Xinhua

The two allies held two days of talks in Beijing this week seen as a strategy session as Kim prepares for his second meeting with Trump, with denuclearisation talks making little progress since the first historic US-North Korean summit.

Kim s fourth visit to China in the past year shows that Beijing — the North s sole major ally — retains a vital role in the diplomatic shuffle despite past tensions between the Cold War-era allies.

“Political settlement of the Korean peninsula issue faces a rare historic opportunity,” Xi said, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The Chinese leader said “major progress” was made last year to reach a political solution with joint efforts from China, North Korea and other nations, and the international community expects dialogue to continue.

Discussions between the US and North Korea over Pyongyang s nuclear arsenal have stalled since Kim and Trump s high-profile first summit in Singapore in June where they issued a vaguely worded declaration about denuclearisation.

The US insists that UN sanctions must remain in place until North Korea gives up its weapons, while Pyongyang wants them immediately eased.

China — North Korea s sole major ally and main trade partner — also wants the sanctions to be relaxed.

China “supports the DPRK and the United States holding summits and achieving results, and supports relevant parties resolving their respective legitimate concerns through dialogue”, Xi said, using the initials of North Korea s official name.

“China hopes that the DPRK and the United States will meet each other halfway,” Xi said.

He added that China stands ready to play a “positive and constructive role” to maintain peace and stability and achieve denuclearisation on the peninsula.

For his part, Kim said North Korea “will continue sticking to the stance of denuclearisation and resolving the Korean peninsula issue through dialogue and consultation”, Xinhua reported.

The North, Kim said, will “make efforts for the second summit between DPRK and US leaders to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community”.

Trump said Sunday that the United States and North Korea are negotiating the location of their next summit.

In a New Year speech, Kim warned that Pyongyang may change its approach to nuclear talks if Washington persists with sanctions.

Relations between China and North Korea had deteriorated in recent years over Pyongyang s nuclear activities.

But ties appear to have warmed, with Kim meeting Xi three times last year, ensuring that his ally remained informed about his dealings with the United States and South Korea.

Xi greeted Kim at Beijing s ornate Great Hall of the People on Tuesday — believed to be the North Korean leader s birthday.

Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan hosted a welcome banquet for Kim and his wife Ri Sol Ju and they watched an art performance together, according to Xinhua.

Kim visited a pharmaceutical plant that makes traditional Chinese medicine on Wednesday and met Xi again for lunch at a hotel before heading back to North Korea by train.

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