Report: Xi Jinping may visit North Korea for armistice anniversary

Report: Xi Jinping may visit North Korea for armistice anniversary

March 30 (UPI) — Chinese President Xi Jinping is likely to visit North Korea in July, when both Koreas are scheduled to observe the 65th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said Xi, who recently began to rule without term limits, could visit Pyongyang in late July, South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported Friday.

July 26 will mark the 65th anniversary of the armistice, and the following day, July 27, marks the day when U.N. coalition forces, North Korea and China signed the cease-fire agreement.

Neither North Korea nor China confirmed a final date for Xi’s visit. Pyongyang’s state-controlled news agency said this week Kim Jong Un told Xi he is welcome to visit the North “at a convenient time.”

“The invitation was accepted without hesitation,” KCNA stated.

The recent summit between Xi and Kim in Beijing was followed by the release of China-sanctioned images of the two leaders appearing relaxed and amicable with each other, despite recent tensions and disagreements over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

But according to the human rights center in Hong Kong, the two sides did not come to an agreement regarding the extension of a mutual aid treaty between the two countries.

The Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty was signed on July 11, 1961, and includes pledges of military assistance in the event of an attack.

The agreement was last extended in 2001 and expires in 2021.

Top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi visited South Korea on Friday, a move that may have alleviated some concerns in the South that China was engaging North Korea without regional coordination.

CBS No Cut News reported Friday the special envoy briefed South Korean President Moon Jae-in on details of the summit. Seoul said the discussion was held in way it would improve the outcome for upcoming summits between Kim and Moon, as well as Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Yang also may have told Moon China is considering ending unofficial sanctions on the South that followed the deployment of U.S. missile defense on the peninsula, according to Yonhap.