China's leader Xi looms large over North Korean anniversary

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China could be keen to demonstrate the strong ties it has with Pyongyang to ensure it remains a key player in efforts to dismantle the North's nuclear program.

The South Korean envoys who met Kim on Wednesday finalized the dates for a summit later this month between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the driving force behind the current diplomacy.

"The advancement in inter-Korean relations is the driving force behind the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", Moon said.

KCNA said Kim and the South Korean envoys reached a "satisfactory agreement" over his planned summit with Moon. But the celebrations come as President Donald Trump has blamed Beijing for the slow progress of denuclearization.

Moon is playing a delicate balancing act: trying to improve relations with the North while not getting too far ahead of Washington, whose parallel peace process with Pyongyang is faltering.

It was the first time a North Korean leader had crossed into the South since the 1950-53 war sealed the division of the Korean peninsula.

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USA officials maintain that such a declaration can not come before the North takes more concrete steps toward relinquishing its nukes in a verifiable way.

North Korea has accused the United States of making "unilateral and gangster-like" demands for denuclearization and holding back on the end-of-war declaration.

Earlier on Tuesday, Chung Eui-yong, chief of the national security office at Seoul's presidential Blue House, said he would deliver a letter from Moon to Kim when he visits the North, without elaborating on its contents.

Before the latest setback, Moon had spoken optimistically about his planned September summit with Kim and promised that the pair would take an "audacious step" toward the signing of a peace treaty and the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Past year it claimed it had become a nuclear state, capable of fitting a viable nuclear weapon on an ICBM that could reach as far as the United States' eastern seaboard.

After their June summit in Singapore, Trump and Kim issued a vague statement about a nuclear-free peninsula without describing when and how it would occur.

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