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North Korean diplomat reaching out to China, Russia ahead of inter-Korean summit

By Jennie Oh
North Korean diplomat reaching out to China, Russia ahead of inter-Korean summit
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho (2-R) leaves the Swedish goverment building Rosenbad in central Stockholm, Sweden, 16 March 2018. Photo by EPA-EFE/VILHELM STOKSTAD.

SEOUL, April 3 (UPI) -- North Korea appears to be attempting to bolster ties with key countries, ahead of leader Kim Jong Un's upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States.

China's foreign ministry announced that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong-ho on Tuesday in Beijing.

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According to the ministry, Wang noted that the North Korean leader, on his recent visit to Beijing, had reached an "important common understanding" on denuclearization and establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Last week, Kim made a surprise visit to Beijing with his wife, where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and expressed his commitment to denuclearization, as well as his willingness to hold talks with Seoul later this month and Washington in May.

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Wang, on Tuesday, said Beijing lauds the North's sincere stance on denuclearization and efforts to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. China said it would make active efforts to achieve the goal of ridding the Peninsula of nukes and establishing a system of peace, SBS reported.

The Chinese official also stressed that it is important for the North and China to continue developing their friendship and strengthen exchanges between the two sides including a top-level meeting in Beijing.

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The North Korean diplomat responded that the recent summit between Xi and Kim provided a crucial momentum to develop bilateral ties and said the North would continue to communicate closely with China on matters concerning the Korean Peninsula.

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RI arrived in Beijing that day and will reportedly make his way to Azerbaijan for two-day ministerial meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) held Thursday and Friday in the capital of Baku.

The North Korean diplomat is also expected to visit Russia in mid-April.

Observers say the North is aiming to secure support from key countries before it enters negotiation talks with South Korea and the United States.

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