Did Kim's Visit Just Hand China a Trump Card?

Nichole Vega
April 1, 2018

The South Korean newswire service Yonhap reports that the two Koreas issued a joint statement confirming the time and place for the meeting following high-level talks featuring the head of the South Korean Unification Ministry.

The rival Koreas have begun high-level talks to prepare for an April summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in amid a global diplomatic push to resolve the standoff over the North's nuclear program.

"Even if the situation surrounding its talks with Seoul and Washington plays out well for North Korea, it still needs China's help", Koh said. China claimed on the same day, after what was supposed to be a secret meeting between Kim Jong Un and Chinese president Xi Jinping, that the North Korean leader has pledged to commit to denuclearization, according to Reuters. The North Korean leader has earlier involved himself in the Winter Olympics, and used the opportunity to censure South Korea and then offer to meet with the USA president.

But Chinese state television gave similar coverage to Kim's meetings with Xi as they did to Xi's meetings with Trump previous year, with an unusually long 14-minute report of what Xi and Kim discussed and where and how they met, though the initial secrecy of the trip meant no live coverage of the welcome ceremony. With the U.S. once announcing that if diplomacy doesn't work with North Korea, they would turn to military action, analysts are of the strong opinion that if the meeting goes wrong, the two nations would be much closer than ever to hitting off a war.

North Korea's state media has reportedly neglected to mention Kim Jong-un's calls for making the Korean Peninsula a nuclear-free zone, despite the fact that this matter was apparently an integral part of the North Korean leader's agenda during his visit to Beijing. By visiting Beijing now, Mr. Kim is sending a clear message: that he is serious about his offer of talks.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has agreed to meet with Kim, welcomed this week's meeting between Kim and Xi in a tweet saying, "Look forward to our meeting".

China has long advocated for a restoration of dialogue along the lines of the six-nation talks involving itself, North Korea, the United States, South Korea, Japan and Russian Federation, accompanied by a pause in U.S. The ball is now in the United States' court, and Trump will need to move swiftly and judiciously to strengthen his position and ensure key regional players are working with and not against him, before meeting with Kim Jong Un in May.

South Korean officials applauded the meeting that Kim held with Xi in Beijing this week.

The Xi-Kim summit has again highlighted the bond between China and North Korea, while also showcasing the rise of China as a major power on the world stage.

Later Thursday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency for the first time confirmed Mr. Kim's plan to meet with Mr. Moon, without disclosing the time and venue of their meeting.

Reuters/Kevin LamarqueUS President Donald Trump speaks in front of his Trump Tower residence.

President Trump has shown admirable skill in preventing North Korea from gaining the upper hand against the USA with aggressive test firings of its nuclear missiles combined with its soft diplomacy at the Winter Olympics.

The Chinese leader added in turn that "China sticks to the goal of denuclearization of the peninsula, safeguarding peace and stability on the peninsula and solving problems through dialogue and consultation".

South Korean officials, nonetheless, applauded Kim for "reaffirming his commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", as relayed by other North Korean officials.

But it also has its own interests in mind.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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