North Korea's Kim Jong Un greets Chinese official, calls for stronger ties

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally greeted a top Chinese official in Pyongyang and called for stronger ties with Beijing, state media said Sunday, April 15, as the traditional allies seek to heal battered relations.

The festival is a part of the celebrations of the Day of the Sun, which commemorates the birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung, founder and former president of North Korea.

Kim met Song Tao, the head of the Communist Party of China's International Department, on Saturday, and the two exchanged "profund views on the important matters of mutual concern", Efe quoted the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) as saying.

Kim expressed "satisfaction" over the recent development related to the bilateral relations between the two countries, the KCNA said, apparently pointing to his surprise visit to Beijing last month and summit talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Kim met Song Tao, head of the global liaison department of at the Central Committee of the Communist Party, on Saturday, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

South Korea has chosen "Peace, a new start" as a slogan for the upcoming inter-Korean summit, which will be held in late April, the presidential office said Sunday.

At the meeting with Song, Kim also said the warm welcome was 'due obligation and behavior of the host and close friend for him'. 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.

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Song and Kim discussed the "international situation" and exchanged views on the two countries' "common interests", the KCNA report said.

Another photograph showed a North Korean orchestra performing in front of a screen onto which was projected a large image of Xi.

Song responded to Kim's hospitality by pledging to make "a fresh contribution to promoting the prolonged and stable development of China-DPRK relations".

State-run media have often reported on Ri accompanying Kim at official events, but he did not attend Saturday's performance.

"North Korea is using a hedging strategy", said Boo Seung-chan, a research fellow at the Yonsei Institute for North Korean Studies in Seoul.

"First Lady Ri Sol Ju enjoyed a ballet choreodrama "Giselle" given by the National Ballet of China", KCNA reported, adding she held "friendly talk" with the guests ahead of the performance.

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