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North Korea commemorates birth of its founder Kim II Sung
15 April 2018, 10:27 | Devin Moran
Kim meets Chinese official, calls for strengthening ties
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.
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.
Kim made his first visit to China in March, in a secret trip that reopened ties between the two governments after years of strained relations due to Beijing's opposition to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme and support of worldwide sanctions against North Korea.
As he accorded warm hospitality to Song, Kim remembered his recent visit to China.
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 arrived in Pyongyang last Friday to lead a Chinese art troupe performing in the North's April Spring Friendship Art Festival.
During the meeting with Song, Kim also said he would "positively carry forward and develop the traditional North Korea-China friendship into a fresh phase of development" by "further strengthening of the bilateral relations", KCNA reported.
Song's latest trip to Pyongyang is in sharp contrast to his visit in November previous year.
Song Young-gil, who heads the Presidential Committee on Northern Economic Cooperation, met officials from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Charhar Institute, the committee said.
Song also suggested that Seoul, Beijing, and Moscow establish a cooperative body to effectively develop border areas after peace settles on the Korean Peninsula.
Kim is expected to meet US President Donald Trump soon, and last month he made his first overseas trip since inheriting power to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Observers say the media coverage on the birthday of the country's late founder and Kim Jong Un's grandfather underscores the North's intentions to strengthen ties with China ahead of planned summits with South Korea and the United States.