Global News

Kim meets Chinese official, calls for strengthening ties

Kim meets Chinese official, calls for strengthening ties

The North Korean leader on Saturday "warmly" greeted Song Tao and the Chinese delegation visiting Pyongyang to perform and also expressed his greetings to Chinese President Xi Jinping after Song conveyed Xi's greetings to Kim, the North's official Korea Central News Agency said.

The event is part of the annual commemorations for the anniversary of the birth of Kim Jong Un's grandfather Kim Il Sung on April 15, and features tens of thousands of the purple orchids named after the North's founder by the then Indonesian leader Sukarno in 1965.

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 worldwide sanctions against North Korea.

Song told Kim that he intended his visit to help to advance the two leaders' consensus in developing this "new phase" of bilateral relations and in making contributions toward safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean peninsula, according to the television report.

Kim's meeting with Song was in stark contrast to last November, when the Chinese diplomat visited Pyongyang as a special envoy to President Xi to inform Kim's government of outcomes from the Chinese Communist Party's recent congress.

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North Korea is marking its biggest national holiday by playing up its intention to strengthen ties with China.

Song reportedly responded by saying it is China's unshakable policy to consolidate and develop their relations.

Song met several North Korean officials, including Choe, but not Kim. North Korean media has since been lauding ties with China, a move that local analysts believe is Pyongyang's effort to build negotiating power with the United States when Kim meets President Donald Trump in May or June for the first summit between a North Korean and American leader.

When nuclear-armed North Korea put on a flower show previous year to celebrate the birthday of its founder Kim Il Sung, scale model rockets were on display.