By Gaurav Sharma
Beijing, June 17 (IANS) Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit North Korea this week, becoming the country’s first top leader in 14 years to make an official trip to its ally and reclusive country.
China’s state media on Monday said Xi would begin his two-day visit to Pyongyang on Thursday during which he would discuss with Kim Jong-un North’s nuclear crisis.
“Both sides will exchange views on the (Korean) peninsula situation and push for progress in the political resolution of the peninsula issue,” China’s official CCTV broadcaster said.
Xi’s visit to North Korea comes at a time when tensions between China and the US have spiked on several fronts. Hu Jintao was the last Chinese President to visit Pyongyang in 2005.
China is said to have considerable sway over North Korea that shares tense relations with the US over developing nuclear weapons, which Washington says is illegitimate and wants Pyongyang to junk all its N-stocks.
North Korea says its nuclear programme is a deterrence against Washington and its ally South Korea’s plan to plot regime change.
The experts say China holds a key to resolve the crisis and has great leverage over the North.
North Korea resumed testing weapons after Kim’s second meet with the US President Donald Trump in Hanoi this year came a cropper.
Xi’s visit to Pyongyang comes ahead of his likely meeting with Trump amid escalating trade war.