Kim Jong-un of North Korea Fetes Chinese Envoy as Ties Warm

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Kim Jong-un of North Korea Fetes Chinese Envoy as Ties Warm

In this April 14, 2018, photo provided Sunday, April 15, 2018, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, shakes hands with Song Tao, head of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee's worldwide department in North Korea.

North Korea's leader met a senior Chinese diplomat in Pyongyang on Saturday and "earnestly discussed crucial issues" regarding the two countries' relations, the North's state-run media reported Sunday.

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.

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. Song, head of the International Department in the Communist Party's Central Committee, reportedly replied that it was the Chinese government and Communist Party's "firm policy" to work toward improving relations between both countries.

KCNA also issued a rare separate report on Kim's wife who attended a performance by the Chinese art troupe on Saturday in the absence of her husband.

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

As he accorded warm hospitality to Song, Kim remembered his recent visit to China.

Song is leading a Chinese art troupe that has been in North Korea since Friday.

The warm welcome is in stark contrast to when Song was not permitted to meet Kim during a visit as the Chinese president's special envoy last November.

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

When nuclear-armed North Korea put on a flower show past year to celebrate the birthday of its founder Kim Il Sung, scale model rockets were on display.

The meeting is the latest in a flurry of diplomacy between the two countries since Kim's historic visit to China last month.

"The Supreme Leader said that he would positively carry forward and develop the traditional DPRK-China friendship into a fresh phase of development as required by a new era", it added, using the North's official acronym.

North Korea and China seem to be celebrating closer ties, with Kim Jong Un putting on a banquet today.

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