North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said that a Chinese art troupe's visit to the North will significantly help consolidate ties between Pyongyang and Beijing, state media reported Tuesday.
The North's leader and his wife Ri Sol-ju on Monday watched a ballet choreodrama of "Red Women Company" by the Chinese art troupe, which is visiting the North to take part in an art festival as part of cultural exchange programs, the Korean Central News Agency said.
The trip came in a thawing sign of the two countries' strained ties after Kim made a surprise visit to Beijing last month and met Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of his planned summits with South Korea and the United States.
|North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (second from left) and his wife Ri Sol-ju watches a ballet choreodrama of "Red Women Company" by the Chinese art troupe on Monday, April 16. (Yonhap)|
The art troupe's visit "serves as a significant occasion in carrying forward and further consolidating the tradition" of the two countries' relations, Kim was quoted as saying.
The Chinese delegation is led by Song Tao, the head of the international department at the Central Committee of the Communist Party.
They arrived in Pyongyang on Friday as a follow-up move to the agreement between Kim and Xi to strengthen cultural exchanges.
"He said Xi Jinping is attaching very great importance to the joint agreement made with Kim Jong-un, expressing the will to deepen exchanges in the cultural and art field and other various fields," the KCNA said.
The ties between traditional allies were strained over the North's nuclear and missile tests and China's participation in international sanctions over its provocations.
The Beijing visit was the reclusive leader's first overseas trip since he took power after his father's death in late 2011.
The move was seen as intended to secure more bargaining chips ahead of his planned meetings with President Moon Jae-in on April 27 and with US President Donald Trump in May or July. For China, the Xi-Kim summit apparently helped highlight Beijing's leverage over the North in resolving the North's nuclear standoff. (Yonhap)