Kim meets Chinese envoy

Kim Jong Un meets senior Chinese official

Solid steps needed on denuclearization

North Korea's ties with China, its sole ally, had become strained over the past couple of years over the North's contentious missile and nuclear tests.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has met with a Chinese official leading an art troupe to Pyongyang.

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 United States this spring to discuss sensitive matters including denuclearization.

According to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Sunday, Kim met Song Tao, head of the global liaison department at the Central Committee of the Communist Party, on Saturday.

North Korea on Sunday marked the 106th anniversary of the birth of its late founder Kim Il Sung with no signs of provocations towards the global community amid a reduction in tensions following Pyongyang's shift toward diplomacy.

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The festival is a part of the celebrations of the Day of the Sun, which commemorates the birth anniversary of Kim Il-sung, founder and former president of North Korea. On Saturday, the National Ballet of China staged a performance of "Giselle" at the Mansudae Art Theatre in Pyongyang. The 34-year-old leader described his visit to China last month as "unforgettable" thanks to the "warm comradeship" of the Chinese.

Kim's meeting with Song was in stark contrast to last November, when the Chinese diplomat visited Pyongyang as a special envoy to President Xi to inform Kim's government of outcomes from the Chinese Communist Party's recent congress.

Kim promised Xi that Pyongyang will move forward with denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, while the two leaders agreed to promote cultural exchanges, according to China's Xinhua News Agency.

China is North Korea's strongest economic and military ally, but their relationship cooled after Beijing joined sanctions a year ago. 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.

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