June 20 : Chinese President Xi Jinping was given a hero’s welcome that included a 21-gun salute as he arrived for his first-ever state visit to North Korea to create a bright future of inter-party and inter-state relations as both the leaders have their own challenges with US.
Xi became the first Chinese head of state to visit Pyongyang in 14 years and the fifth since the two nations established diplomatic relations in 1949.
Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held their first round of talks soon after Xi landed in Pyongyang with his wife, Peng Liyuan, the foreign minister, Wang Yi, and other officials.
“The China-North Korea friendship is a strategic choice made by the two sides with a long-term and overall perspective and will not waver due to changes in the international situation,” Xi said during his meeting with Kim, adding that the friendship accords with the aspirations of both peoples, the fundamental interests of both countries and the development trend of the times.
North Korea’s nuclear programme was also on the agenda as Kim’s second denuclearisation summit with Trump ended in failure.
Noting that Beijing-Pyongyang ties have now entered a new historical period, Xi said that the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government “attach great importance to the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries”.
The Chinese leader said that it was “a steadfast policy of the CPC and the Chinese government to maintain, consolidate and develop China-North Korea relations”.
For his part, Kim expressed a “hearty” welcome to Xi on behalf of his Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), government and people of North Korea, noting that more than 250,000 people flocked to the streets in Pyongyang to welcome the Chinese leader.
The visit, which came upon the 70th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties, “represented a huge encouragement and political support for the party, government and people of North Korea and bore great significance in the history of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)-China relations”, he added.
Kim said that he fully agreed with “the insightful analysis and future plan Xi made on bilateral relations and that it was an unswerving policy of the DPRK’s party and government to carry forward the DPRK-China friendship from generation to generation”.