The North Korean regime is witnessing a period of intense diplomatic activity ahead of the historic summits it will hold with South Korea and the USA this spring to discuss sensitive matters including denuclearization.
"In March, Kim visited Beijing, his first visit overseas since ascending to power in 2011".
North Korea is marking its biggest national holiday by playing up its intention to strengthen ties with China. Song, head of the International Department in the Communist Party's Central Committee, reportedly replied that it was the Chinese government and Communist Party's "firm policy" to work toward improving relations between both countries. Kim's wife, Ri Sol-ju, attended.
"He said with deep emotion that the Chinese comrades accorded cordial hospitality to him with utmost sincerity in token of warm comradely friendship during his recent unforgettable visit to China", the KCNA said.
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The KCNA said that Kim and Song had in-depth discussions and exchanged views on the "important matters" of mutual concern and the global situation.
This year, North Korea has significantly reduced the degree of its usual military rhetoric while celebrating the birth of Kim Il Sung, according to Kyodo News Agency. In attendance were China's ambassador to North Korea, Li Jinjun, and other diplomats from the embassy, as well as Kim Yo-jong, Kim Jong-un's younger sister and first vice director of the Workers' Party's Central Committee, and other top-ranking North Korean officials.
Mr. Kim's friendly welcome also contrasted with the reception that Mr. Song received the last time he visited North Korea, as a special envoy of Mr. Xi in November.
Song met several North Korean officials, including Choe, but not Kim. He said that that will contribute to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula. There were no posters of missiles or militarist slogans, which is believed to be connected with the upcoming talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in next week, as well as Kim's meeting with US President Donald Trump, scheduled for early June.