North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and China's Xi Jinping meet in Pyongyang on Thursday for a summit, as tensions flare between the US and North Korea over efforts to get the North to stop its nuclear weapons program.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is getting set for another major summit. But this time it's not with Donald Trump. Instead, Kim's about to welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first trip by a Chinese leader to Pyongyang in more than a decade. China's the only major ally of North Korea. And the visit comes as tensions flare once again between the U.S. and North Korea, over Trump's efforts to get Pyongyang to ditch its nuclear weapons. Reuters' Ben Blanchard has been covering the story from Beijing. (Soundbite)(English) REUTERS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, BEN BLANCHARD, SAYING: "This is the first visit to North Korea by a Chinese leader since 2005, when then President Hu Jintao went to visit. So it's certainly a big deal in terms of diplomacy between the two countries. Now North Korea's youthful leader Kim Jong Un has visited china about four times in the last year or so, and Xi basically had an outstanding invitation from him to pay a return trip. The timing is also extremely interesting, Xi could have gone really when he wanted but he has chosen to go just a week before the G20 summit in Osaka in Japan. And also this will be where he and President Trump will hold their next meeting. So it's possible that China is trying to send a message to the United States ahead of this meeting, but it is going to be very interesting to see what message Xi brings to Kim in this unusual visit." China and North Korea have a long-standing relationship. They fought together against the U.S. during the Korean War of the 1950s, and have traditionally called each other as close as "lips and teeth." And that close history could spell trouble for any more efforts by Washington to bring Kim back to the table. (Soundbite)(English) REUTERS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, BEN BLANCHARD, SAYING: "China has been happy to see the rapprochement between Pyongyang and Washington and has been pleased to see a dramatic easing in tensions between the two countries. However it has also looked on with concern in recent months at a slight ratcheting up of tensions again, with a few missile tests for example by the north Koreans ... but also President Xi will be continuing to try and nudge North Korea to along the road slightly toward Chinese style economic reforms. This is something they tried to do with his father Kim Jong Il although not very successfully." One analyst told Reuters, Xi's visit may prove to be the point where Kim's plan A - to improve relations with the U.S. - shifts into a Beijing-focused plan B.
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Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived Thursday morning in Pyongyang for a two-day state visit to North Korea. Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan were greeted with a 21-gun salute during an elaborate welcome ceremony at Pyongyang's airport, where they were met by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife, Ri Sol Ju. China's state broadcaster CCTV showed huge crowds of people at the airport, waving flowers and chanting slogans to welcome Xi. People also lined the roads as Xi's motorcade traveled to central Pyongyang, with the Chinese leader joining Kim in an open-top vehicle. After the welcome ceremony, the two leaders held bilateral talks, in which Kim Jong Un said that his country is waiting for the response it wants to see in its stalled nuclear talks with the United States. "North Korea would like to remain patient, but it hopes the relevant party will meet half way with North Korea to explore resolution plans that accommodate each other's reasonable concerns," he said, according to CCTV. Xi's two-day trip to North Korea, the first by a Chinese leader in 14 years, raises the possibility that China could help break a monthslong impasse in talks between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea's nuclear weapons.
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