Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit North Korea this week

By Yanan Wang, Associated Press

Chinese President Xi Jinping will make a state visit to North Korea this week, state media announced.

Mr Xi will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a visit on Thursday and Friday, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said.

It said the trip would be the first by a Chinese leader in 14 years.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency also announced the visit but provided no further details.

The visit coincides with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and North Korea, CCTV said.

The broadcaster added the leaders will exchange views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (Vladimir Voronin/AP)

The visit comes as negotiations between the US and North Korea appear to have reached an impasse.

A summit in Vietnam in February between Mr Kim and President Donald Trump failed after the US rejected North Korea’s request for extensive relief from UN sanctions in exchange for dismantling its main nuclear complex, a partial disarmament step.

Since the summit’s breakdown, no major contacts between the US and North Korea have been announced.

Mr Kim travelled to the Russian Far East in April for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The move was viewed as aimed at strengthening his leverage over Washington and persuading Moscow to loosen its implementation of the international sanctions against North Korea.

Last month, North Korea fired short-range missiles and other weapons into the sea in an apparent effort to apply pressure on the US.

KCNA reported in April that Mr Kim said he will give the US “till the end of the year” to reach out with further proposals.

Since taking office in 2012, Mr Xi has met Mr Kim four times in China.

The meetings were timed in proximity to Mr Kim’s meetings with Mr Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, highlighting Beijing’s role as a player in the nuclear standoff.