N. Korea's Kim meets senior Chinese envoy


He hosted a Chinese art troupe led by senior diplomat Song Tao, North Korean state media said.

The North's official KCNA news agency said Mr Kim Jong Un welcomed Mr Song Tao and his delegation in a meeting on Saturday at which Mr Song conveyed Mr Xi Jinping's "warm greetings".

Kim added that he will advance and develop the traditional friendship into a new phase by promoting mutual cooperation and visits, including high-level delegations.

Mr Kim met Mr Song Tao, head of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee's worldwide department, who was leading an art troupe to a spring festival in the North's capital.

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.

Beijing is North Korea's sole major ally but relations soured after China supported United Nations sanctions to punish Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons programme.

In his meeting with Song, Kim said he hoped the occasion would herald a "new era" of cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

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

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. In attendance were China's ambassador to North Korea, Li Jinjun, and other diplomats from the embassy, as well as Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un's younger sister and first vice director of the Workers' Party's Central Committee, and other top-ranking North Korean officials.

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

China is North Korea's strongest economic and military ally, but their relationship cooled after Beijing joined sanctions a year ago. He said that that will contribute to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula.

Kim will meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27 at the border between the two countries, and US President Donald Trump in May or early June at a yet-to-be determined venue.

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.