North Korea, China commit to bolster ties in high-level Beijing talks By Reuters

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SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korean and Chinese officials have met in Beijing and committed to further develop bilateral ties, North Korean media said on Sunday, as Pyongyang seeks to expand its diplomatic engagement after COVID-19 lockdowns.

A North Korean delegation led by Kim Song Nam, head of the International Department of the ruling Workers’ Party Central Committee, was among groups visiting countries in the region since last week that Pyongyang has maintained closer ties with.

In a meeting on Thursday, Wang Huning, China’s fourth-ranked leader, told Kim “no matter how the international situation may change, the China-DPRK friendship, a strategic choice of both sides, will never waver,” KCNA said, using North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged messages early this year and vowed closer ties.

At Thursday’s meeting, Wang conveyed Xi’s “heartfelt, warm” message to Kim, KCNA said.

North Korea implemented tough border restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, halting the flow of goods with China and Russia, suspending diplomatic exchanges with its main allies and cutting off routes plied by smugglers and defectors.

Some of the restrictions remain, and Pyongyang has only recently allowed more access to foreign diplomats, resumed some diplomatic engagement and increased trade with Russia and China.

On Sunday, KCNA said Kim held talks with Cai Qi, who is the head of the powerful Secretariat of the Communist Party of China on Friday, KCNA reported on Sunday.

Cai said the friendship between the two countries were “formed in blood” and has welcomed “a brighter future under the strategic guidance” of Xi and Kim, KCNA said.

Kim Song Nam, an alternate member of the Political Bureau, also met with Liu Jianchao, who leads the Chinese Communist Party’s body in charge of managing ties with foreign political parties.

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