China’s state media announced on Monday that President Xi Jinping will make a state visit to North Korea this week.
The Xinhua news agency reported that Xi’s visit on Thursday and Friday came at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. State broadcaster CCTV said the two leaders will meet during the two-day trip.
Xi’s visit will be the first by a Chinese leader in 14 years, though Kim has visited China four times since March 2018. The trip coincides with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, CCTV said.
China expert Bernt Berger from the German Council on Foreign Relations told DW the trip would not throw up any surprises and was largely “symbolic.”
“China does adhere to international sanctions on North Korea’s nuclear program,” he said. “But it does support diplomatic solutions and the opening up of North Korea’s economy. However, China will not unilaterally start to ease sanctions.”
The state visit by the Chinese president comes as US talks with North Korea regarding its nuclear program appeared to have stalled. A February summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Vietnam did not lead to an agreement.
China is North Korea’s main trading partner and lone major ally.