Leaders of China, South Korea and Japan meet in a three-way summit to support North Korea’s historic move toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula ahead of the first-ever upcoming meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is hosting his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang and South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the capital Tokyo on Wednesday.
The three had “reached the common recognition that the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, (and) the permanent establishment of peace and development of the intra-Korean relations are crucial,” Moon said in a statement after the summit.
“I would like to thank the leaders for welcoming and supporting the Panmunjom declaration,” he added.
Less than two weeks ago, Moon held a historic summit with Kim in the truce village of Panmunjom, where the two agreed to pursue a permanent peace treaty and also vowed to work toward the “complete denuclearization” of the divided peninsula.
The Japanese prime minister, who is also preparing for his own summit with Kim, said after the talks that he hoped to see the international community press “North Korea to take concrete steps towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and peace and stability in northeast Asia.”
Pyongyang declared last month that it was ready to suspend the country’s nuclear and missile tests and close a nuclear test site. According to Moon, Pyongyang should be guaranteed economic aid if it were to undertake complete denuclearisation.
Pompeo in Pyongyang ahead of Trump-Kim summit
In the meantime, Trump’s new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived for a visit to Pyongyang to lay the groundwork for a summit between Kim and Trump.
A South Korean government official said in Tokyo on Wednesday that the date and location of the Trump-Kim summit would also likely be announced following Pompeo’s trip.
“The location is picked, the time and date, everything is picked and we look forward to having a great success,” Trump said in a statement at the White House on Tuesday.
Before Pompeo’s visit to Pyongyang, the North Korean leader paid another visit to China and met President Xi Jinping in the coastal city of Dalian, China’s Xinhua state news agency reported on Tuesday. The two had “an all-round and in-depth exchange of views” on bilateral ties and “major issues of common concern.”
This was Kim’s second trip to China in two months. His repeated trips to meet Xi has raised speculations that Kim was looking for support from Beijing amid concerns that the Trump administration could not be trusted on any deal.
The administration demands that Pyongyang give up its nuclear weapons program. This is happening as Trump announced on Tuesday the withdrawal of Washington from the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers.
Analysts said the move, which was a blow to Washington’s negotiating credibility, has now made it more difficult for the Trump administration to ink a deal with Pyongyang.
“Why would Kim … believe any commitments President Trump makes when he arbitrarily tears up an agreement with which the other party is complying?” Antony Blinken, who was deputy secretary of state under former US President Barack Obama, asked in a Twitter post on Tuesday.
He said that the White House’s move “makes getting to yes with North Korea that much more challenging.”
Washington’s non-commitment to the Iran deal has also concerned South Korean officials who had worked hard to broker a summit between Trump and Kim. The US president abandoned the Iran deal, despite repeated personal pleas by European leaders. This sends a clear message to the South that Trump could also dismiss pleas from Seoul about any deal with Pyongyang in future.