Senior Chinese Official to Lead Art Troupe to North Korea

N. Korean leader makes 1st mention of talks with US, stoking confidence about summit

Senior Chinese diplomat, “large-scale” art troupe headed to North Korea: KCNA

North Korea held the annual session of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) without its leader Kim Jong-un, state media reported on Thursday.

Song Tao, who serves as head of the International Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and the art troupe will participate in the 31st April Spring Friendship Art Festival (ASFAF).

A senior Chinese official will visit North Korea, leading an art troupe as Pyongyang and Beijing have agreed to strengthen cultural exchanges, the North's state media said Wednesday.

The trip will "consolidate the cornerstone of the DPRK-China cultural exchange and strengthening the traditional DPRK-China friendly relations onto a new high stage", the KCNA said, referring to the acronym of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"The Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea will warmly welcome the artists of the friendly neighboring country and specially greet them with the greatest sincerity".

Song's trip "is an important cultural exchange activity to follow through on the consensus reached by the two heads of state", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular press briefing.

On Monday, Kim attended a Politburo meeting that mentioned the upcoming summits, so they were probably also on the agenda in the parliamentary meeting.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi held bilateral talks with his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho on April 3.

On Monday, Trump said that he hopes to strike a deal on ridding North Korea of nuclear weapons.

Seoul, Baik added, "will watch with interest whether it will lead to a performance in China by North Korean artists that was cancelled in December 2015".

Beijing is North Korea's sole major ally, an alliance dating back to the 1950-1953 Korean War, but relations deteriorated after China backed United Nations sanctions to punish Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons programme. For China, the Xi-Kim summit apparently helped highlight Beijing's leverage over the North in resolving the North's nuclear standoff.

Song last visited the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, in November to discuss the outcome of China's 19th Communist Party Congress.

Latest News