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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un greets Chinese art troupe

  • North Korean leader treated diplomat Song Tao and art troupe to a gala dinner
  • Meetings indicate improving relationship between North and its only ally China 
  • Kim's Beijing trip in March was his first journey abroad since taking power in 2011

By Connor Boyd For Mailonline

Published: 04:14 EDT, 15 April 2018 | Updated: 19:16 EDT, 15 April 2018

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un 'warmly' greeted a senior envoy from Beijing in a bid to mend ties with China.

He treated diplomat Song Tao and a visiting Chinese art troupe with a gala dinner in Pyongyang, indicating closer ties between the countries following Kim's surprise visit to Beijing last month.

The North Korean leader on Saturday 'warmly' greeted Song Tao and the Chinese delegation visiting Pyongyang to perform and also expressed his greetings to Chinese President Xi Jinping, the North's official Korea Central News Agency said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with Chinese diplomat Song Tao in Pyongyang
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with Chinese diplomat Song Tao in Pyongyang

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shakes hands with Chinese diplomat Song Tao in Pyongyang

Kim treated Song and a visiting Chinese art troupe with a gala dinner, indicating closer ties between the countries
Kim treated Song and a visiting Chinese art troupe with a gala dinner, indicating closer ties between the countries

Kim treated Song and a visiting Chinese art troupe with a gala dinner, indicating closer ties between the countries

'He said with deep emotion that the Chinese comrades accorded cordial hospitality to him with utmost sincerity in token of warm comradely friendship during his recent unforgettable visit to China,' the KCNA said.

In late March, Kim made a rare visit to Beijing and met Xi, Kim's first known journey abroad since he took power in 2011.

It's yet another sign of Kim's supposed willingness to improve international tensions, with planned meetings with South Korean officials and Donald Trump.

The North Korean leader promised a 'further livening up' of the 'warm climate of reconciliation' with the South created by the Winter Olympics.

In late March, Kim made a rare visit to Beijing in his first known journey abroad since taking power in 2011
In late March, Kim made a rare visit to Beijing in his first known journey abroad since taking power in 2011

In late March, Kim made a rare visit to Beijing in his first known journey abroad since taking power in 2011

Kim said he would offer 'all conditions for the Chinese art troupe at the highest level and on a top-priority basis'
Kim said he would offer 'all conditions for the Chinese art troupe at the highest level and on a top-priority basis'

Kim said he would offer 'all conditions for the Chinese art troupe at the highest level and on a top-priority basis'

Kim Jong-un, whose nuclear bomb and missile tests have stoked international tension, praised the South for hosting his state at the games in Pyeongchang.

The Chinese art troupe, led by Song, the head of the Communist Party's International Department, left for North Korea on Friday for an April Spring Friendship Art Festival.

The art troupe performed on Saturday at the Mansudae Art Theatre, and Kim's wife Ri Sol Ju watched a ballet 'Giselle,' performed by the National Ballet of China.

The Chinese visitors were 'warmly' welcomed in Korea with a musical ceremony
The Chinese visitors were 'warmly' welcomed in Korea with a musical ceremony

The Chinese visitors were 'warmly' welcomed in Korea with a musical ceremony

At the meeting with Song, Kim also said the warm welcome was 'due obligation and behavior of the host and close friend for him.'

He said he would offer 'all conditions for the Chinese art troupe at the highest level and on a top-priority basis,' according to the KCNA.

That contrasts with Song's last visit to Pyongyang last November, when he was sent as Xi's special envoy to discuss the outcome of China's 19th Party Congress. 

Pictured: Kim's wife Ri Sol Ju (middle) meets with Song Tao, head of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China
Pictured: Kim's wife Ri Sol Ju (middle) meets with Song Tao, head of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China

Pictured: Kim's wife Ri Sol Ju (middle) meets with Song Tao, head of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China

Kim promised to strengthen North Korea's friendship with China into a 'fresh phase of development'. Pictured: The Chinese visitors were treated to a gala dinner
Kim promised to strengthen North Korea's friendship with China into a 'fresh phase of development'. Pictured: The Chinese visitors were treated to a gala dinner

Kim promised to strengthen North Korea's friendship with China into a 'fresh phase of development'. Pictured: The Chinese visitors were treated to a gala dinner

Song returned to Beijing without meeting Kim. 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.

Kim and Song also exchanged their views on deepening the bilateral relations, the KCNA claimed. 

Kim said he would develop their friendship into a 'fresh phase of development as required by a new era by further strengthening of the bilateral relations.'

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