North Korea holds key parliamentary meeting without Kim Jong

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

Mongolia has also been floated as a possible location of the summit, which would follow a first meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In slated for April 27 at the truce village of Panmunjeom.

The North's official Korea Central News Agency said the visit by the art troupe would strengthen the countries' friendly relations "onto a new high stage" following leader Kim's "first historic visit to China".

This photo, carried by North Korea's Rodong Sinmun on March 28, 2018, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) meeting with Song Tao (R), the head of the worldwide department at the Central Committee of the Communist Party, in what appears to be a special train that carried Kim to China.

The Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), carried the report on the front page of Wednesday's edition.

Song had visited Pyongyang late previous year to brief officials about the party's October congress.

State-run media reported that Kim Jong Un told the officials to revitalize the economy.

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The state media, however, did not put Kim on the list of the meeting's attendees, among which were Kim Yong-nam, President of the SPA Presidium, and Choe Ryong-hae, the number-two leader of Pyongyang. For China, the Xi-Kim summit apparently helped highlight Beijing's leverage over the North in resolving the North's nuclear standoff. Members of the ruling party's political bureau on Monday approved a draft budget to be submitted to the assembly.

Song's visit is not the first exchange between the high-level Chinese and North Korean officials since last month's summit took place, however.

Both North Korean and foreign artists take part, and this year's week-long event includes concerts, dance performances and acrobatics. "It seems that the North-China relations are fast normalizing", said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies.

" If the U.S.is not willing to accept some compromise, China can easily restart its assistance to North Korea, thus reducing the impact of the global sanctions regime".

He then discussed the "prospect of the (North Korean)-U.S. dialogue and set forth the strategic and tactical issues" to be maintained by the party, KCNA said.

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