North's Kim calls for stronger ties after personally greeting top Chinese official

N. Korean leader's wife with Chinese official

The art troupe performed on Saturday at the Mansudae Art Theatre, and the North Korean leader Kim's wife Ri Sol Ju watched a ballet 'Giselle, ' performed by the National Ballet of China, but Kim was not present, the KCNA said.

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

Sitting on Tao's other side to enjoy the performance, was another powerful regime figure, Kim's younger sister Kim Yo Jong, who proved her diplomatic skills during a visit to South Korea in February.

Kim is expected to hold meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April and with US President Donald Trump in the weeks after that.

The two exchanged "profound views on important matters of mutual concern" and the global situation, KCNA said, without providing details.

State-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Ri attended a ballet performance by the visiting National Ballet of China on Saturday.

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Late last month, the North Korean leader made a surprise journey to Beijing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, where he reportedly asserted his willingness to denuclearize, as well as his desire for the security of his regime and compensation as part of the negotiation process.

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.

"The Supreme Leader said that he would positively carry forward and develop the traditional DPRK-China friendship into a fresh phase of development as required by a new era", it added, using the North's official acronym.

More high-level exchanges and cooperation will follow between Beijing and Pyongyang, the report cited Mr Kim as saying.

The Day of the Sun is one of the main public holidays in North Korea, which marks the birth anniversary of the country's founder Kim Il Sung, grandfather of incumbent Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In front of the images stood a giant floral arrangement on a golden stand from Kim Jong Un, Kim Il Sung's grandson and the third of the dynasty to head the isolated and impoverished but nuclear-armed country.

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