August 18, 2018 / 6:14 AM / a month ago

Chinese President Xi to visit North Korea next month - Straits Times

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to visit Pyongyang next month at the invitation of North Korea leader Kim Jong Un to attend the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of North Korea’s founding, Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper reported.

FILE PHOTO: China's President Xi Jinping takes his seat at the first closed session of the leaders of the BRICS summit meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

It will be the Chinese leader’s first visit to the North Korean capital since he took power in 2012, and 13 years after the last visit by a Chinese President, when Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao visited in 2005, the newspaper said on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un instructs the local government to prepare for the construction of the Ono Greenhouse in Kyongsong County, North Hamgyong Province, North Korea, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 17, 2018. KCNA via REUTERS

The Straits Times did not say where it obtained the information and the Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

North Korea’s celebrations are set to take place on Sept. 9 and the Straits Times said that Xi’s visit could still be subject to last-minute changes.

China is the reclusive country’s most important trading partner and Kim has visited China three times so far this year during which he has held talks with Xi on improving cooperation between the two countries and economic reforms.

The United States has stepped up sanctions on North Korea to pressure Pyongyang to give up its nuclear program. This week, the United States imposed sanctions on Chinese firms for exporting alcohol and cigarette products to North Korea in breach of those sanctions.

Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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