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Kim practices art of diplomacy

China | Apr 16, 2018
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greeted a top Chinese official to Pyongyang as the old allies seek to heal battered relations.

Kim met Song Tao, head of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee's International Department, leading an art troupe to a festival in the North's capital.

The delegation arrived weeks after Kim made a surprise visit to Beijing and met President Xi Jinping, signaling a shoring up of links at a time of high-stakes diplomacy. Kim meets South Korea's President Moon Jae In on April 27 and US President Donald Trump soon after.

Beijing is Pyongyang's key ally. Their alliance dates back to the 1950-1953 Korean War, but relations deteriorated after China supported United Nations sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear program.

Kim welcomed Song and his delegation on Saturday when Song conveyed Xi's "warm greetings."

Kim later hosted a banquet for the Chinese delegation, when officials from both sides toasted to a shared will "to more beautifully decorate the flower garden of . . . friendship."

Song is leading an art troupe attending a festival as part of commemorations for the anniversary of the birth of North founder Kim Il Sung on April 15, 1912. North Korean and foreign artists take part in a week-long event.

Pyongyang also issued a report on Kim's wife, Ri Sol Ju , who attended a performance by the Chinese art troupe on Saturday in the absence of her husband.

Pyongyang's diplomatic activity is a major turnaround after a period of tension caused by the North's nuclear and missile tests.

It started with Kim sending a delegation to the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea in February.

Officials from the Koreas also met on Saturday at their border to discuss setting up a hotline between their leaders.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE



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