China has called on the United States to take “concrete steps” to deliver on what was agreed between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at their Singapore summit last year.
In a year-end interview with the state-controlled People’s Daily, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China encourages Washington and Pyongyang to “work out a feasible roadmap” to establish peace and “realizing complete denuclearization on the Peninsula.”
He linked recent tensions between the two countries on the failure of the June 2018 summit, saying that the resulting joint statement was not “effectively implemented” and that the “legitimate concerns of the DPRK have not been taken seriously or addressed.” North Korea is formally known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or the DPRK.
In their joint Singapore statement, the North Korean leader “reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” and Trump agreed to “provide security guarantees” to North Korea.
Diplomats from Pyongyang and Washington have been attempting to negotiate a trade that would see Kim give up his country’s nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles used to deliver them in exchange for relief from punishing US and United Nations sanctions that have crippled the North Korean economy.
Efforts have since stalled, however, with North Korea continually blaming the US for the lack of progress.
As the year draws to a close, North Korea’s actions are being closely watched, after a top North Korean official warned that it might deliver “a Christmas gift” to the US if there’s no progress on lifting sanctions. US defense officials have said they’re expecting a long-range ballistic missile test.
But a source familiar with the North Korean leadership’s current mindset told CNN that chances are “very low” that North Korea will actually conduct a provocative test like a satellite launch, firing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), or detonating a nuclear weapon, because those acts would be considered too provocative for the likes of China and Russia, Pyongyang’s two most important international trading partners.
China is believed to account for almost 90% of North Korea’s imports, and has been an advocate for resolving tensions with the isolated country.
On Tuesday, Trump joked that he was holding out hope for another kind of gift from North Korea entirely: “Maybe it’s a present where he sends me a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test,” Trump said. “I may get a vase. I may get a nice present from him. You don’t know. You never know.”
Additional reporting by Josh Berlinger, Jake Kwon, Yoko Wakatsuki and Yong Xiong.