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China's Xi hopes US, N Korea will 'meet halfway'

AFP  |  Seoul 

Chinese offered North Korean leader Un firm backing in deadlocked nuclear talks with the US, insisting the two sides should meet "halfway", said Thursday.

Kim visited by train this week for two days of discussions that reasserted China's role in the process, and were seen as a strategy session ahead of a second summit between the North Korean leader and US

At their first meeting in in June, Kim and Trump signed a vaguely worded document with Kim pledging to work towards the "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

But progress has since stalled with and -- which stations 28,500 troops in -- disagreeing over what that means.

wants relief from the multiple sets of sanctions imposed on it over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, while the US wants the measures to remain in place until gives up its arms -- something it has made no public promise to do.

also wants the sanctions relaxed and Xi said he "hopes that the DPRK and the will meet each other halfway" according to China's state agency Xinhua, using the initials of the North's official name.

Xi "spoke highly of the positive measures taken by the DPRK side", it added.

has carried out six nuclear blasts and launched missiles capable of reaching the whole of the United States, but has performed no such tests for more than a year, and blew up the entrances to a nuclear testing ground it said it no longer needed.

has rejected demands for what it calls its "unilateral" disarmament as "gangster-like".

is the North's sole major ally and key trade partner but relations had deteriorated over Pyongyang's nuclear activities, before warming up last year, with Kim meeting Xi three times.

Kim noted the "difficulties and concern" in talks with the US, according to Pyongyang's official agency, which said the Chinese leader had issued a ringing endorsement of the North's position.

Xi said that "the principled issues suggested by the DPRK side are deserved requirements and its reasonable points of concern should be resolved properly", it said.

Each of the previous Kim-Xi meetings have come shortly before or after the North Korean summits with either Trump or South Korean Moon Jae-in. Trump said Sunday the US and were negotiating the location of their next summit, a meeting Moon said Thursday was "imminent".

Pyongyang needed to take "bold, practical measures for denuclearisation" to ensure sanctions are lifted, he told reporters, but added that "corresponding measures" were also needed from the US, such as agreeing a "peace regime" and formally declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

Moon acknowledged the agreement was "somewhat vague", and there was "scepticism" over Kim's denuclearisation pledge. But Kim had assured him and other leaders that his view of denuclearisation was "no different in any way from what the international community demands", Moon said, and Pyongyang would not link it to the presence of US forces in the South or nearby.

Nonetheless a commentary carried by last month stressed that when Pyongyang refers to "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula", it includes the North, the South, and "surrounding areas from where the is targeted".

Kim Han-kwon, an at the warned that preliminary talks between Pyongyang and would be crucial.

"If what the North puts on the table after its summit with fails to meet Washington's expectations, there will be conflict and fresh doubts about whether a second summit should take place," he told AFP.

and have competing strategic interests in northeast Asia, and said Xi had re-asserted China's importance in the diplomatic process.

stands ready to "play a positive and constructive role in maintaining peace and stability and realising denuclearisation on the peninsula and lasting peace and stability in the region", it cited him as saying.

Xi greeted Kim at Beijing's ornate of the People on Tuesday -- believed to be the North Korean leader's birthday -- before hosting a welcome banquet for Kim and his wife

Kim visited a that makes on Wednesday and met Xi again for lunch before heading home.

The visit coincided with trade talks between Chinese and US officials. Analysts say China could use the North Korean issue as a in the negotiations, but Beijing's foreign ministry rejected any link between Kim's trip and the talks.

There was a "rare historic opportunity" for a political settlement on the peninsula, Xi said according to Xinhua, and China "supports the DPRK and the holding summits and achieving results".

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, January 10 2019. 17:16 IST