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China’s Xi to visit North Korea next month for first time as president: report

by Jesse Johnson

Staff Writer

Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit Pyongyang next month for ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea’s founding, Singapore’s The Straits Times newspaper has reported.

The trip, which comes at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, would be Xi’s first visit to Pyongyang since he took power in 2012, and 13 years after the last visit by a Chinese president, when Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao visited in 2005, the newspaper said Saturday.

The Straits Times did not say where it obtained the information, and China’s Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

North Korea will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the country, formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, on Sept. 9. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has also reportedly been invited, according to the daily Asahi Shimbun.

For his part, Kim has already visited China three times this year, traveling twice to Beijing and once to the eastern port city of Dalian. Xi met the North Korean leader during all three visits, amid warming ties between the two countries. Relations had soured in recent years after a spate of nuclear and missile tests by Kim, with China slapping some of its harshest sanctions to date on its nuclear-armed neighbor. But Beijing, the North’s sole ally, has also continued in its role as Pyongyang’s top economic patron.

The first two meetings between Xi and Kim, in March and May, were held in the run-up to June’s historic summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore. The third came after the talks, and was widely seen as a move by Kim to brief Xi on the results of the Singapore meeting.