1250 GMT July 18, 2019
Xi will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during the visit on Thursday and Friday, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said. It said the trip will be the first by a Chinese president in 14 years, AP reported.
North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency also announced the visit, but provided no further details.
The visit coincides with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and North Korea, CCTV said. The broadcaster added the leaders will exchange views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
The visit came as negotiations between the US and North Korea appear to have reached an impasse.
A summit in Vietnam in February between Kim and President Donald Trump failed over what the Americans saw as North Korean demands for sanctions relief in exchange for disarmament steps. Since the summit’s breakdown, no major contacts between the US and North Korea have been announced.
Kim traveled to the Russian Far East in April for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The move was viewed as aimed at strengthening his leverage over Washington and persuading Moscow to loosen its implementation of the international sanctions against North Korea.
Last month, North Korea fired short-range missiles and other weapons into the sea in an apparent effort to apply pressure on the US.
KCNA reported in April that Kim said he will give the US “till the end of the year” to reach out with further proposals.
Since taking office in 2012, Xi has met with Kim four times in China. The meetings were timed in proximity to Kim’s meetings with Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, highlighting Beijing’s role as a key player in the nuclear standoff.
South Korea’s presidential office said it hopes Xi’s visit to North Korea will contribute to a swift resumption of negotiations to resolve the nuclear standoff. It said it has been engaging in discussions with Beijing over the possibility of a visit by Xi, which it views as a positive development in efforts to peacefully resolve the peninsula’s issues.