Early Wednesday morning, Chinese state media confirmed that the secretive North Korean delegation that visited Beijing on Monday was led by the country’s leader Kim Jong-un. Kim’s visit to China marks his first trip outside of North Korea since he assumed the reins of power from his father in 2011.
Kim held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. The two had earlier exchanged messages: Kim had congratulated Xi followed the conclusion of China’s 19th Party Congress and again after the recent National People’s Congress.
“It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearization on the peninsula, in accordance with the will of late President Kim Il Sung and late General Secretary Kim Jong Il,” Kim said, according to a quote carried by Chinese state media.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
That quote marks the second confirmation of an intent to denuclearize on Kim Jong-un’s part following a meeting in Pyongyang with a South Korean delegation in early March.
The meeting between the two leaders takes place amid an unusual bout of North Korean diplomacy. Starting with his New Year’s Day address, Kim initiated a period of diplomatic outreach to South Korea, pursuing direct talks with President Moon Jae-in’s government during the Winter Olympics in February.
Following an early March meeting where he hosted a presidential delegation from the South Korean government, Kim reportedly confirmed that he would be interested in inviting U.S. President Donald J. Trump for a meeting. Such a meeting would mark the first U.S.-North Korea summit and would follow a third inter-Korean summit in late-April.
Confirmation of Kim’s trip followed days of speculation. Neither North Korean or Chinese media confirmed the visit in advance or while it was underway.