China calls US-North Korea summit an 'important step'

BEIJING — The U.S.-North Korea summit in Vietnam last week was an "important step" toward denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, China's foreign minister said Friday.

The talks between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were "worthy of full recognition," Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during an annual meeting of China's ceremonial legislature.

He encouraged the two countries to "remain patient," and noted that many issues concerning the peninsula "cannot be solved overnight."

Trump and Kim's summit ended abruptly last Thursday after a dispute over how much sanctions relief Washington should provide Pyongyang in return for nuclear disarmament steps. No agreement was reached.

China is North Korea's only major ally and a chief provider of energy and trade that keeps the country's broken afloat. In recent years, however, China has agreed to increasingly strict United Nations sanctions over the North's nuclear programs.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping's four meetings with Kim last year set a new record in the history of China-North Korea relations, Wang noted.

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