Syria strikes may complicate US-North Korea summit

Kim Jong Un meets senior Chinese official

Kim Jong Un meets senior Chinese official

A high-ranking Beijing official met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, while leading a group of Chinese performers to Pyongyang, in apparent attempts to strengthen bilateral ties.

Ri met with the accompanying delegation of Chinese officials, which included Song Tao, head of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China, Li Qun, China's vice-minister of Culture and Tourism of China, and Li Jinjun, China's ambassador to North Korea.

Kim is expected to hold meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April and with US President Donald Trump in the weeks after that.

The North's official Korean Central News Agency reported Saturday that Ri attended a performance of "Giselle" by the visiting National Ballet of China along with Workers Party officials but without her husband.

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

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On his trip to Beijing, Kim had "witnessed the remarkable achievement made by China" and "was happy for the brotherly Chinese people", the official Chinese Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.

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

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.

Late last month, the North Korean leader made a surprise journey to Beijing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, where he reportedly asserted his willingness to denuclearize, as well as his desire for the security of his regime and compensation as part of the negotiation process. North Korea's state-controlled media have only ever used the "first lady" title in relation to Kim Il Sung's wife Kim Song Ae, according to South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

The streets of Pyongyang were lined with commemorative posters of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the country and grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un, as thousands left flowers at monuments dedicated to the "eternal leader", who died in 1994.

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