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Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un hold summit in Pyongyang

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on June 20, 2019 - Duration: 02:30s

Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un hold summit in Pyongyang

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.

Jayson Albano reports.

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Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un hold summit in Pyongyang

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un kicked off another major summit on Thursday (June 20).

But this time it's not with Donald Trump.

Instead, Kim's rolled out the red carpet for President Xi Jinping, marking the first trip by a Chinese leader to Pyongyang in more than a decade.

China's the only major ally of North Korea.

And Xi's arrival comes as tensions flare once again between the US 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 ah it was going to be very interesting to see what message Xi brings to Kim to this unusual visit." China and North Korea have a long-standing relationship.

They fought together against the US during the Korean War of the 1950s and have traditionally called each other as close as quote "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 rapproachment 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 try 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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