Kim Jong Un gives grand banquet for visit of Chinese art troupe

Women carrying flowers arrive at Mansu hill to pay their respects before the statues of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong-Il

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally greeted a top Chinese official in Pyongyang and called for stronger ties with Beijing, state media said on Sunday, as the traditional allies seek to heal battered relations.

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.

"According to the Korea Central News Agency, "(Kim) said with deep emotion that the Chinese comrades accorded cordial hospitality to him with utmost sincerity in token of warm comradely friendship during his recent unforgettable visit to China.

Pyongyang is on a charm offensive accompanying the sudden diplomatic rapprochement on the peninsula, with a summit due later this month between leader Kim Jong Un and the South's President Moon Jae-in.

The two exchanged "profound views on the important matters of mutual concern" and the worldwide situation, KCNA said, without providing details.

North Korea's leader met a senior Chinese diplomat in Pyongyang on Saturday and "earnestly discussed crucial issues" regarding the two countries' relations, the North's state-run media reported Sunday.


Song and Kim also exchanged their views on deepening bilateral relations, the KCNA said, with Kim saying he would develop their friendship into a "fresh phase of development".

The two countries' relations had been icy since China complied with global sanctions against trade with North Korea previous year in response to nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

In response, Mr Song vowed to make "a fresh contribution to promoting the prolonged and stable development" of China-North Korea relations.

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.

Marking the two sides' efforts to boost their ties, Song arrived in the North on Friday, with the cultural delegation, to participate in the April Spring Friendship Art Festival, which commemorates regime founder Kim Il Sung's birth on Apr. 15.

KCNA also issued a rare separate report on Kim's wife who attended a performance by the Chinese art troupe on Saturday in the absence of her husband.

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