Kim Jong-un visits China: Xi Jinping expresses willingness to maintain contact with North Korea, accepts invitation to visit country

North Korea's Kim Jong-un made his first-ever foreign trip as leader to meet China's president in Beijing, the official Xinhua news agency said Wednesday, ahead of proposed summits with Seoul and Washington that could unsettle nuclear-armed Pyongyang's sole ally.

During the visit from Sunday to Wednesday which came at the invitation of Xi Jinping, Kim held talks with the Chinese president who hosted a banquet to welcome the North Korean leader and his wife Ri Sol-ju, Xinhua said.

"I have had successful talks with General Secretary Xi Jinping on developing relations between the two parties and the two countries, our respective domestic situation, maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and other issues," Kim said at the banquet.

In this photo provided Wednesday, March 28, 2018, by China's Xinhua News Agency, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands in Beijing, China. The Chinese government confirmed Wednesday that North Korea's reclusive leader Kim went to Beijing and met with Chinese President Xi in his first known trip to a foreign country since he took power in 2011. The official Xinhua News Agency said Kim made an unofficial visit to China from Sunday to Wednesday.(Ju Peng/Xinhua via AP)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Beijing, China. AP

Relations between China and North Korea had soured as Beijing has backed tough United Nations sanctions to punish Pyongyang for its missile and nuclear tests.

Analysts had earlier suggested Beijing had been sidelined by Pyongyang's approaches to Seoul and Washington, but Kim's visit puts China firmly back at the centre of the diplomatic scrum.

Xi said that under the new circumstances, he is willing to keep frequent contact with Kim through various forms such as exchange of visits, and sending special envoys and letters to each other, reported Xinhua. He also accepted Kim's invitation to visit North Korea, reported AFP quoting KCNA state media.

"Both Comrade Chairman and I have personally experienced and witnessed the development of China-DPRK relationship," Xi said, using the initials for North Korea's official name. "This is a strategic choice and the only right choice both sides have made based on history and reality.... This should not and will not change because of any single event at a particular time," Xi said.

Kim had not met Xi since the young North Korean leader took over after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in 2011.

With inputs from AFP

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Updated Date: Mar 28, 2018 08:52:16 IST

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