An anonymous “official with knowledge of the discussions” told CNN on Wednesday that the head of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, is planning his first official visit to Pyongyang.
The source said the trip would take place “soon.” CNN suggested it might occur shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump’s May or June meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
CNN notes that North Korean media claim Xi accepted an invitation to visit Pyongyang when Kim made his surprise visit to Beijing by train in March. The source for the report said last week’s visit to North Korea by a high-ranking Chinese official was meant to pave the way for Xi’s upcoming journey to Pyongyang.
The official also said Russia also seeks a “personal summit with Kim,” presumably meaning a meeting between the North Korean leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The CNN report notably does not specify which government its source works for.
South Korea’s Yonhap News on Wednesday cited “diplomatic observers” who have long predicted that Xi would pay a visit to North Korea after the Trump-Kim summit. South Korean President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to meet with Kim on April 27th,
Japanese media reported on Monday that China and North Korea are holding talks through North Korea’s embassy in Beijing to arrange a visit to Pyongyang by the Chinese president sometime in June. Xi was said to be awaiting the outcome of Trump’s meeting with Kim before finalizing his plans.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry was noncommittal when asked about the Japanese reports, saying only that President Xi is “willing to maintain regular contact with Chairman Kim Jong-un through visits, special envoys, and the exchange of letters.”