Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Kim Jong Un meets senior Chinese official

Kim Jong Un meets senior Chinese official

The visit comes after the 2 countries agreed to work on cultural sharing programs at a summit in Beijing last month.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, left, with Song Tao, head of the Chinese Communist Party's International Department, in Pyongyang on Saturday, in a picture released by the Korean Central News Agency on Sunday.

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

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North Korea's relationship with its sole ally during the 1950-1953 Korean war had strained when China pushed United Nations to punish Pyongyang for its nuclear weapons programme.

Observers say North Korea has been attempting to convey the image of a "normal, legitimate state" to the global community, by presenting Kim Jong Un and his wife as the regime's "first couple".

That contrasts with Song's last visit to Pyongyang last November, when he was sent as Xi's special enjoy to discuss the outcome of China's 19th Party Congress. Song returned to Beijing without meeting Kim.

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For the first time, Ri was referred to as the "revered first lady Ri Sol-ju", instead of "comrade Ri Sol-ju", Yonhap reported.

At the meeting with Song, Kim also said the warm welcome was 'due obligation and behavior of the host and close friend for him, ' and would offer 'all conditions for the Chinese art troupe at the highest level and on a top-priority basis, ' according to the KCNA.

Song is heading a delegation that arrived in Pyongyang on Friday which includes an art troupe taking part in the April Spring Friendship Art Festival.

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Song met several North Korean officials, including Choe, but not Kim.

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.

Sunday marked the 106th birthday of North Korea's late founder Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong-un's grandfather, but the regime kept its celebrations low-key this year, refraining from launching a ballistic missile or holding a military parade as in the past.

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"In March, Kim visited Beijing, his first visit overseas since ascending to power in 2011".

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