Kim Jong-un meets China's Xi in Pyongyang

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, meeting in Pyongyang with Chinese President Xi Jinping, said Thursday that his country is waiting for a desired response in stalled nuclear talks with the United States.

North Korean leader says his country is waiting for desired response in stalled nuclear talks with U.S.

This image from China's CCTV shows Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un shaking hands before their meeting in Pyongyang on Thursday. (CCTV via Associated Press)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, meeting in Pyongyang with Chinese President Xi Jinping, said Thursday that his country is waiting for a desired response in stalled nuclear talks with the United States.

"North Korea would like to remain patient, but it hopes the relevant party will meet halfway with North Korea to explore resolution plans that accommodate each other's reasonable concerns," he said, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

Xi's trip to North Korea raised the possibility that China could help break an impasse in talks between the U.S. and North Korea over the North's nuclear weapons.

Describing the issue as "highly complex and sensitive," Xi said his government is willing to play a constructive role in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

"The international community expects the U.S. and North Korea to continue to talk and achieve results," he said, according to CCTV.

Earlier, Xi, his wife Peng Liyuan and senior Chinese officials were greeted with a 21-gun salute at a huge arrival ceremony at the airport in Pyongyang.

About 10,000 people stood in tight formation, waving flowers and chanting slogans to welcome Xi, China's official Xinhua news agency said. Kim and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, met the visiting delegation at the airport.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which is an arm of the North Korean government, said newspapers in the country are praising Xi's visit.

"Newspapers of the DPRK [North Korea] in their editorials on Thursday say that the Korean people warmly welcome with delight Xi Jinping, president of the People's Republic of China, who is coming to the DPRK with the warm friendship feeling of the fraternal Chinese people," the KCNA reported.

Xi, who is on a two-day state visit to North Korea, is the first Chinese leader to visit North Korea in 14 years.

The summit comes as both Xi and Kim are locked in separate disputes with the United States — Xi over trade and Kim over his nuclear weapons.

People welcome Xi at the Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang as he arrives for a state visit to North Korea. (Pang Xinglei/Xinhua News Agency via Associated Press)

The U.S. is demanding that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons development before international sanctions are lifted. North Korea is seeking a step-by-step approach in which a step toward its denuclearization would be matched by a concession from the U.S., notably a relaxation of economic sanctions.

China backs what it calls a "suspension for suspension" proposal. Xinhua said both sides "need to have reasonable expectations and refrain from imposing unilateral and unrealistic demands."

Allies with recent friction

A former North Korean diplomat who defected in 2016 said he thinks Kim wants to give Xi a message to deliver to Trump when the two meet at next week's G-20 summit in Japan.

Thae Yong-ho said that Kim may offer some kind of compromise on his nuclear facilities to set up a third summit with the U.S. president. But he cautioned such a move would be only to buy time and not to denuclearize. Thae spoke at a news conference in Tokyo while promoting the Japanese translation of his book.

U.S.-North Korea talks have been stalled since Kim and Trump had their second summit in February in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Experts say Xi will likely endorse North Korea's calls for an incremental disarmament process.

His meeting with Kim would be their fifth summit since Kim entered nuclear diplomacy with the United States and South Korea early last year.

A banner at the airport welcome ceremony read, "Long Live with Unbreakable Friendship and Unity Formed by Blood," Xinhua said.

The countries fought together in the 1950-53 Korean War against the United States, South Korea and their allies, but there has been friction in recent years, especially over the North's relentless push for nuclear weapons.

Xinhua said that people lined up along the way from the airport in Pyongyang to the city, waving flags and flowers and chanting "Long Live the China-DPRK Friendship." DPRK, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is the official name of North Korea.