Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit North Korea on Wednesday ahead of the upcoming summit between Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump, the Chinese foreign ministry has announced.
The two-day visit will involve preparations for the historic meeting between the two countries, as North Korea agrees to efforts to denuclearize.
“State Councilor Wang will visit North Korea at the invitation of North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho,” a foreign ministry spokesman said on Monday.
According to Yonhap News Agency, Wang is “likely to be briefed on the results of the Moon-Kim summit and discuss strategies for the upcoming summit between Kim and Trump.”
The trip follows a meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-In on Saturday where the two men agreed to a de-escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
“As I stand here today I can see that South and North Koreans are the same people, they cannot be separated. We are compatriots,” Kim said at the meeting. “We should not be confronting each other, we are the same people and should live in unity. I hope we will be able to live very peacefully in the future, as soon as possible.”
Yet according to a report from the South China Morning Post, China could be excluded from peace talks between North Korea and the U.S., despite Donald Trump’s long-term belief that China was the key intermediary for delivering peace.
“The stance of China’s foreign ministry has been that [the North Korean nuclear crisis] is none of its business and that North Korea and the U.S. should be communicating directly,” Zhang Liangui, a specialist in Korean studies at the Central Party School, told the Post.
“So now things are out of China’s control and it is no surprise that it is being excluded from the discussions,” he continued. “Now it all depends on the U.S.’ attitude. There’s a chance for real denuclearisation if the U.S. remains determined and does not consider only its own interests.”
China has long been North Korea’s closest ally, providing political and economic support to the regime through trade and bilateral relations. However, China has pulled back some support over the past year amid North Korea’s multiple nuclear tests and threats against regional powers.
Trump, meanwhile, has said he thinks his meeting with Kim will be “terrific” and thanked China for their role in easing tensions.
“I think it will be terrific,” he said this month. “I think we’ll go in with a lot of respect and we’ll see what happens, but China has really helped us at the border and we appreciate it.”