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Kim Jong-un meets top Chinese official, calls for strengthening ties

15 April 2018

According to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Sunday, Kim met Song Tao, head of the worldwide liaison department at the Central Committee of the Communist Party, on Saturday.

The meeting suggests stronger bilateral ties after Kim Jong-un made a surprise visit to Beijing last month and met Chinese President Xi Jinping in his first trip outside the country as North Korea's leader. North Korea's ties with China, its sole ally, had become strained over the past couple of years over the North's contentious missile and nuclear tests.

North Korea on Sunday marked the 106th anniversary of the birth of its late founder Kim Il Sung with no signs of provocations towards the global community amid a reduction in tensions following Pyongyang's shift toward diplomacy.

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The Chinese art troupe, led by Song, the head of the Communist Party's International Department, left for North Korea on Friday for an April Spring Friendship Art Festival. Kim's wife, Ri Sol-ju, attended.

"According to the report, Kim expressed satisfaction with the meeting, saying he will "take the North Korea-China friendship to a whole new level, in line with new generational demands" by strengthening exchanges between high-level officials as well as cooperation and visits in various sectors". In attendance were China's ambassador to North Korea, Li Jinjun, and other diplomats from the embassy, as well as Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un's younger sister and first vice director of the Workers' Party's Central Committee, and other top-ranking North Korean officials.

Kim made his first visit to China in March, in a secret trip that reopened ties between the two governments after years of strained relations due to Beijing's opposition to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme and support of global sanctions against North Korea.

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China is North Korea's strongest economic and military ally, but their relationship cooled after Beijing joined sanctions previous year. He said that that will contribute to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.

The nation's leader Kim Jong Un, grandson of Kim Il Sung, is expected to talk about denuclearization with South Korean President Moon Jae In on April 27 and U.S. President Donald Trump at a summit to be held possibly by the end of May or in early June.

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Kim Jong-un meets top Chinese official, calls for strengthening ties