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China’s Xi hopes US, N. Korea ‘will meet halfway’

BEIJING: Chinese President Xi Jinping offered North Korean leader Kim Jong Un firm backing in deadlocked nuclear talks with the US and reasserted Beijing's key role in the wider process, according to the two allies' state media yesterday.

Mr Kim visited Beijing by train this week for two days of talks with Mr Xi, seen as a strategy session ahead of a second summit between the North Korean leader and US President Donald Trump.

At their meeting in Singapore last June, Mr Kim and Mr Trump signed a vaguely worded document with Mr Kim pledging to work towards the "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

But progress has stalled with Pyongyang and Washington disagreeing over what that means.

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North Korea wants relief from the multiple sets of sanctions imposed on it over its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programmes, while the US wants the sanctions to remain in place until it gives up its arms - something Pyongyang has made no public promise to do.

China also wants sanctions relaxed, and Mr Xi said it "hopes the DPRK and the US will meet each other halfway" according to China's state news agency Xinhua, using the initials of the North's official name.

He "spoke highly of the positive measures taken by the DPRK side", it added.

Mr Kim's visit coincided with trade talks between Chinese and US officials in Beijing.

Analysts say China could use the North Korean issue as a bargaining chip in the negotiations, but Beijing's Foreign Ministry rejected any link between Mr Kim's trip and the talks. - AFP

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