North Korea lauds China ties as Xi wraps up trip

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Xi travels through Pyongyang in open-top car with Kim Jong Un as two leaders celebrate two countries’ close friendship.

The leaders of North Korea and China lauded their two nations’ historic ties on Friday, as Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up a two-day visit to Pyongyang amid stalled talks with the United Statesover the North’s nuclear programme.

Kim Jong Un told the Chinese president that his visit was an opportunity to demonstrate “the immutability and invincibility of the DPRK-China friendship before the world”, the KCNA news agency reported, using the abbreviation for North Korea’s official name.

At a time when “serious and complicated changes are happening in international and regional situations”, KCNA said, the two leaders agreed to “promote close strategic communication” and develop their “common interests”.

Pyongyang has pulled out all the stops to welcome Xi, the first Chinese leader to visit the country in 14 years – a period in which Pyongyang has carried out five nuclear tests and launched missiles capable of reaching the entire US mainland.

China’s priority is to maintain stability and the North’s nuclear provocations strained the relationship between the Cold War allies, with Beijing backing UN sanctions on Pyongyang and Kim not visiting China until he had been in power for more than six years despite the country being the North’s key diplomatic supporter and main provider of trade and aid.

Xi’s visit to Pyongyang comes as China and the US are involved in a messy trade war and North Korea’s own negotiations with the US – over trade – are stalled. Analysts say Xi’s visit is intended as a signal to Trump of his influence with Kim, ahead of next week’s G20 summit in Japan.

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