March 6 (UPI) — China is endorsing the inter-Korea talks held in Pyongyang on Tuesday, following reports North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed interest in denuclearization and showed “understanding” of the need for joint U.S.-South Korea drills on the peninsula.
Beijing’s foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the Chinese government welcomed the latest developments and urges the United States and North Korea to make contact, Yonhap reported.
“We think it is good a special delegation from South Korea visited the North to exchange views,” Geng said. “We paid attention to the relevant aspects of the situation and the positive outcomes.”
The Chinese spokesman added the momentum of dialogue that began with the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics “should not be interrupted,” and peace through denuclearization on the peninsula must be “expanded.”
The unprecedented meeting between Kim and senior South Korean officials has raised expectations for a more permanent peace on the peninsula, and Kim has made a series of unprecedented statements, according to Seoul.
News 1 reported Kim said he “understands” the need for U.S.-South Korea joint exercises and that he does not need the drills to be suspended in order for talks to resume with Washington.
Chung Eui-yong, South Korea’s presidential security chief, told reporters Tuesday the North Korean leader said that “because the U.S.-South Korea drills were postponed for the Pyeongchang Olympics, I understand they must be carried out in April.”
But Kim also said the drills could be “adjusted” as the “peninsula stabilizes,” according to Chung.
North Korean state television showed footage of the Kim-hosted dinner held for the delegation, and praised Kim for his “bold decision” and “major commitment.”
KCTV reported, “The South Korean presidential special delegation expressed heartfelt gratitude for Supreme Leader Comrade Kim Jong Un’s willingness to spare a great deal of time for them, and for bestowing upon them the greatest hospitality, a major commitment of unimaginable proportions, and for handing out a bold decision.”