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

SEOUL, April 15 (UPI) — A high-ranking Beijing official met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whilst leading a group of Chinese performers to Pyongyang, in apparent attempts to strengthen bilateral ties.

North Korea’s state broadcaster Korean Central Television said Sunday that Song Tao, who leads the Chinese Communist Party’s International Department, held a meeting with Kim on Saturday to “exchange in-depth opinions on areas of mutual interest including major issues and world order.”

The broadcaster did not specify which issues were on the agenda but the widely expected meeting is believed to be a continuation of talks between Beijing and Pyongyang regarding Kim’s upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States on denuclearization.

According to the report, Kim expressed satisfaction with the meeting, saying he will “take the North Korea-China friendship to a whole new level, in line with new generational demands” by strengthening exchanges between high-level officials as well as cooperation and visits in various sectors.”

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.

The two leaders agreed to strengthen their decades-long ties and exchange in various sectors.

Marking the two sides’ efforts to boost their ties, Song arrived in the North on Friday, with the cultural delegation, to participate in the April Spring Friendship Art Festival, which commemorates regime founder Kim Il Sung’s birth on Apr. 15.

Song also met the North’s ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee Vice Chairman Ri Su-young to discuss ways to develop bilateral relations, Yonhap reported.

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