World News

Chinese official meets Kim Jong Un, ahead of inter-Korean summit

Chinese official meets Kim Jong Un, ahead of inter-Korean summit

Kim added that he will advance and develop the traditional friendship into a new phase by promoting mutual cooperation and visits, including high-level delegations.

The North's official KCNA news agency said Mr Kim welcomed Mr Song and his delegation in a meeting on Saturday at which Mr Song conveyed Mr Xi's "warm greetings".

Mr Kim met Mr Song Tao, head of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee's worldwide department, who was leading an art troupe to a spring festival in the North's capital.

After making rapid strides in its weapons programmes a year ago, when intercontinental ballistic missile launches and its most powerful nuclear blast to date earned it several new sets of UN Security Council sanctions, Pyongyang does not want anything to spoil the atmosphere now that talks are at hand.

The Chinese art troupe is attending a spring art festival held as part of the commemorations for the anniversary of the birth of the North's founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, 1912. On Saturday, the National Ballet of China staged a performance of "Giselle" at the Mansudae Art Theatre in Pyongyang.

Kim hosted a dinner banquet for Song and the art troupe on Saturday in Pyongyang, where North Korea's Samjiyon Orchestra played music and Song and Choe Ryong-hae, vice chairman of the Workers' Party's Central Committee, made a toast to improve North-China relations, the KCNA reported.

More news: US, Mexico and Canada hasten NAFTA talks as elections loom
More news: Beyoncé becomes first black woman in history to headline Coachella
More news: Arsenal away form hits 93-year low in Newcastle United defeat

Footage broadcast on Chinese state television on Sunday evening showed Kim greeting Song with a warm hug and the pair later dining in a large hall adorned with a giant picture of Kim and Xi together last month. Sent by President Xi Jinping to discuss the outcome of China's 19th Party Congress, Song had returned home without meeting Kim Jong-un.

Song met several North Korean officials, including Choe, but not Kim. He said that that will contribute to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.

Mr Kim is expected to hold summits with South Korean President Moon Jae In this month and US President Donald Trump in the following weeks.

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.

The change may be related to upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States, in which Kim has promised to hold talks about some form of denuclearization.