Both Koreas meet to arrange reunions of families split by war

Minnie Murray
June 22, 2018

State media from both nations said Mr Kim's two-day visit to Beijing would end later on Wednesday.

China is by far the biggest source of tourists for the North, with direct flights and a long land border connecting the neighbours, and tens of thousands believed to visit every year. Photos show Kim and Xi shaking hands in front of a row of Chinese and North Korean flags - a visual echo of Kim and Trump's handshake.

President Donald Trump is trumpeting results of his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that get ahead of reality.

Trump has expressed frustration over criticism that he legitimized the communist regime and gave it concessions by meeting with the leader and agreeing to suspend military exercises between South Korea and the U.S. In return, critics say, North Korea committed only to the vaguely worded "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula.

Kim said he appreciated the honest friendship of and valuable support from Comrade General Secretary Xi Jinping and the CPC, the Chinese government, and the Chinese people, to himself, the WPK, the DPRK government, and the DPRK people.

The U.S. -based North Korea monitoring group 38 North said in an analysis at the end of last week there had been no sign of any activity toward dismantling of any missile test site.

Kim praised China as a "clean, attractive and advanced" nation and said he had learned much from the prosperous country before heading back to North Korea.

The telephone line could be operational by around Friday, but it is not clear when Moon and Kim would use it the first time, Im said.

Kim's visit to Beijing came amid strained economic relations between China and the United States as Trump threatened to slap new tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods this week. A motorcade including sedans, minibuses, motorcycles and a stretch limo with a golden emblem was seen leaving the airport.

Mr. Kim also promised during a meeting with Mr. Xi in Beijing to cooperate with Chinese officials to secure "true peace" in the process of "opening a new future" on the Korean peninsula, it said.

Delegations from North and South Korea met on Friday for talks to arrange the first reunions in about three years for families separated by the Korean War, with the Red Cross paving the way.

That could allow the lifting of UN Security Council economic sanctions that have brought about a plunge in the North's foreign trade, although the United States insists easing of sanctions can only come after Pyongyang shows it has ended its nuclear programs.

The limited numbers of reunions are vastly insufficient to meet the demands of aging relatives, who are mostly in their 80s and 90s, South Korean officials say.

Kim's limousine and motorcade left the North Korean embassy for Beijing's airport on Wednesday afternoon, watched by gawking pedestrians.

Over the course of this two-day visit, Kim and Xi exchanged vows of friendship and promises of economic cooperation, in a carefully choreographed display of amity that ignored the recent history of chilly relations between the neighbours.

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