North Korea's Kim to develop long-standing ties with China, KCNA says


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (right) meeting Chinese top legislator Zhao Leji (left) in Pyongyang, on April 13. - PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (Reuters): North Korean leader Kim Jong Un affirmed his position to develop long-standing ties with China, state media KCNA said on Sunday, citing Kim in his meeting with Chinese top legislator Zhao Leji.

Zhao, finishing a goodwill tour that began on Thursday, is the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit the North since 2018, when Li Zhanshu attended the 70th anniversary of the North's founding.

China is the chief ally and economic lifeline for North Korea, which has been hard-hit by U.N. sanctions over its nuclear weapons programme.

Kim expected the two countries to "steadily carry forward and develop this durable traditions of friendship" so the two countries would see "responsible progress and successful fruition of the Year of DPRK-China Friendship", KCNA said.

DPRK refers to the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The talks were held in a "kind, sincere and comradely atmosphere," according to KCNA, which also said Zhao and his delegation left Pyongyang on Saturday.

Kim also extended thanks to Chinese President Xi Jinping for sending a high-ranking delegation and a large scale art troupe, KCNA said. Pyongyang has been seeking to expand diplomatic exchanges with Beijing after lifting Covid-19 restrictions.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Chizu Nomiyama) - Reuters

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