During an unannounced meeting with Chinese President President Xi Jinping on Wednesday that marked his first known foreign trip since taking power in 2011, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his commitment to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and urged the U.S. to reciprocate moves toward diplomacy by creating "an atmosphere of peace and stability."
"The issue of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill...while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace," Kim said, the according to the Chinese state media outlet Xinhua. "It is our consistent stand to be committed to denuclearization on the peninsula."
While the details of what was discussed during the meeting between the two leaders are unclear, China Central Television aired select clips of the visit, including Kim's arrival at the Chinese capital and a series of photo-ops.
Here’s the Kin Jong Un + Xi Jinping photo-op that just aired on CCTV. pic.twitter.com/sTopkmmpNA
— Andrew Peng (@TheAPJournalist) March 28, 2018
Responding to Kim's unofficial visit to China as well as his diplomatic overtures in a series of tweets Wednesday morning, U.S. President Donald Trump—who earlier this month agreed to meet with Kim in person later this year—declared that "maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost," despite warnings from experts that this pressure campaign could destroy the possibility of peace.
Received message last night from XI JINPING of China that his meeting with KIM JONG UN went very well and that KIM looks forward to his meeting with me. In the meantime, and unfortunately, maximum sanctions and pressure must be maintained at all cost!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2018
While Trump tried to claim his bellicose and belligerent approach to the situation in North Korea was the key factor in producing talks, Van Jackson, a senior lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington and expert on strategic negotiations, argues this is simply not the case.
I literally just gave a conference presentation 20 minutes ago explaining why it's dangerous to think maximum pressure is the reason for dialogue--it ain't https://t.co/znyKrd6d6X
— Van Jackson (@WonkVJ) March 28, 2018
Kim's visit to China comes just days after Trump selected John Bolton as his next national security adviser, a move many fear could reverse diplomatic progress and undermine denuclearization talks, given Bolton's previous calls for the U.S. to bomb North Korea during frequent appearances on Fox News and in right-wing editorial pages.
As CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin pointed out in an article for Common Dreams on Tuesday, Bolton has also called attempts to negotiate with North Korea "worse than a mere waste of time."
"Instead of talks, Bolton has called for the United States to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea, a strike that could spark a nuclear war," Benjamin noted.