North Korea's Kim Jong Un Plans To Denuclearize, Is It For Real?

North Korea's Kim Jong Un Plans To Denuclearize, Is It For Real?

South Korean officials, nonetheless, applauded Kim for "reaffirming his commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", as relayed by other North Korean officials. Kim said in Beijing that there was "no question" that his inaugural trip overseas should be to China, and that it was his "solemn duty" to "value and continue the DPRK-PRC relations through generations".

The rapprochement has been brought about by the same events that have driven Pyongyang's detente with Seoul and Washington: the North's nuclear advances, Washington's hardline rhetoric and the growing impact of sanctions on the economy.

Ties in recent months have frayed as China supported tougher United Nations sanctions on North Korea and suspended coal and iron ore imports.

Kim has affirmed that he is willing to meet with the USA, after a surprise meeting with President Xi that looks to have mended the growing rift between North Korea and China.

As of this week, when Kim made a surprise visit to Chinese communist leader Xi Jinping in Beijing, this meeting will be the second between Kim and another head of state since he became the nation's dictator in 2011, following the death of his father Kim Jong-il.

North Korea's state-run television has broadcast footage of the country's leader Kim Jong Un's visit to China.

Kim, too, had much to gain by accepting Xi's invitation.

The two-day trip by Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi follows talks earlier this week between Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping. While this was just a restatement of China's long-standing position, the public reaffirmation by Xi that China opposes military strikes on the Korean Peninsula was a diplomatic win for Pyongyang.

"Ken Gause, an expert on North Korea and its leadership and a director at research and analysis group CNA said, "[His statement] shows that Kim is looking for a phased process that is conditional on US and [South Korea] providing incentives that meet the requirement of creating an atmosphere of peace and stability".




Kim subdued those anxieties by reportedly assuring Xi that their meeting "will yield abundant fruits of DPRK-China friendship, and facilitate peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula".

The Asahi newspaper reported Thursday that Kim's administration has mentioned a possible summit with Abe in June following one with U.S. President Donald Trump.

With the unexpected reset between Beijing and Pyongyang, Washington faces an uphill battle on a few fronts. China has appeared increasingly shut out as its relations with the North deteriorated and Pyongyang reached out to Seoul and Washington. Now that Kim has expressed his willingness to engage in negotiations, Beijing will most likely push for relaxing sanctions.

China has historically played a role in inter-Korean relations.

The third summit ever between the Koreas could prove significant in the global diplomatic push to resolve the standoff over the North's nuclear program. With his strengthened relationship with Xi, Kim may feel emboldened to ask the United States and South Korea for more rewards in return for fewer concessions, given China's agreement to stand by North Korea even if talks break down.

Christopher Hill, who negotiated with the North as the head of the US delegation under the George W. Bush administration, believes North Korea needs to demonstrate that it will agree to a verification protocol on denuclearization for diplomatic efforts to advance.

By taking advantage of the conflict of interests between the interested parties, North Korea has been able to develop its own nuclear program.

Thus far, the White House has yet to publicly indicate the direction it will take in the upcoming talks with North Korea.

Analysts say Kim would have felt a need to consult with China ahead of summits with Moon and Trump.

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