President Donald Trump’s announced plan to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has earned a warm reception from China and Russia, the two major nations with the closest ties to the otherwise isolated communist state.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Friday that his nation is hopeful that all parties to the talks will “show their political courage,” according to an Associated Press report, and that China supports “positive inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korea interactions.” China has long served as North Korea chief trade partner and benefactor on the world stage, until recently shielding it from the most aggressive actions sought by the U.S. and others at the United Nations.
As North Korea ramped up its campaign of missile tests and nuclear saber-rattling, Trump has sought to ramp up pressure on the Kim regime with the help of China, which wields a disproportionate amount of influence with North Korea as its principle trading partner. China has agreed to tougher sanctions on North Korea in recent months, and Geng said Friday that the Chinese government “will continue to strive for the political resolution and lasting peace and stability on the peninsula.”
The White House’s Thursday confirmation that Trump would meet with Kim in the coming months came as somewhat of a surprise, breaking with past precedent that kept U.S. presidents from meeting leaders of the repressive nation. Trump himself has at times ratcheted up tensions with North Korea, pledging last summer to attack it with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continued its nuclear provocations, but also expressing a willingness last May to meet with Kim.
Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, traveling in Ethiopia, told the AP that the Kremlin considers the Trump-Kim meeting “a step in the right direction.” An agreement between the U.S. and North Korea, he said, is “necessary for normalizing the situation around the Korean peninsula.”
Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, told the AP that he and Trump spoke on the phone and agreed to continue the U.S.-led campaign of international sanctions intended to pressure North Korea into abandoning its nuclear arsenal. Abe said he will visit the U.S. in April to hold talks with Trump.
And Sweden, which is one of a handful of nations to maintain diplomatic relations with North Korea and has represented U.S. interests in Pyongyang, offered to help facilitate the meeting between Trump and Kim. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven told the AP Friday that he hopes the dialogue between the two is “smooth.”