Seoul: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited a region near his country’s border with China in an apparent attempt to boost economic cooperation with Beijing, Pyongyang’s state media reported on Saturday.
Kim paid a visit to a sugar plantation in Sindo county in the North Pyongan province, which borders China’s Liaoning province, official news agency KCNA reported.
The region, rarely visited by the country’s top leadership, also includes Hwangkumpyong island. The island hosts a joint economic project by Pyongyang and Beijing which has been suspended since the execution of Kim’s uncle Jang Song-thaek — a leader close to China — in 2013.
The island, situated on the Yalu river which flows through both countries, was supposed to host a special economic zone dedicated to the trading of goods.
Kim was accompanied by the first vice director of international affairs of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Kim Song-nam, who is considered in-charge of relations with China in the party.
After 2017 witnessed heightened tensions due to continuous weapons tests by North Korea, its main trade ally China strictly implemented UN’s sanctions on the regime, although it has recently advocated their gradual withdrawal after Kim has led a diplomatic turnaround.
Since the beginning of 2018, the North Korean leader has met his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in on two occasions, while also meeting US President Donald Trump.
Kim signed joint declarations with Moon and Trump pledging to achieve total denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.