China’s top legislator Zhao meets key N. Korean official over ways to bolster bilateral ties

China's top legislator, Zhao Leji, has met with Choe Ryong-hae, a senior North Korean official, to discuss ways to further develop bilateral ties, Pyongyang's state media said Friday. The trip by the No. 3 official in the Chinese Communist Party came as the two countries mark the 75th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations. The two "discussed the issues of positively promoting exchange and cooperation in all fields, including politics, economy and culture ... and thus further developing the traditional" bilateral relations, the KCNA said, a day after Zhao arrived in Pyongyang for his three-day trip in a bid to attend the opening ceremony of the "North Korea-China Friendly Year." They also exchanged views about bilateral cooperation, as well as regional and international issues of mutual concern, the KCNA said, without elaborating. Zhao, chairman of the National People's Congress of China, said Beijing hopes to strengthen high-level exchanges and deepen reciprocal cooperation with North Korea on the occasion of the friendship year, according to China's foreign ministry. They also signed documents of cooperation in such fields as mutual waivers of diplomatic visas, customs clearances and quarantine measures. Zhao is the first high-ranking Chinese official to visit North Korea since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. North Korea appears to be ramping up high-level exchanges with Beijing, as much as it has been expanding its relationship with Russia, including military cooperation. Seoul's unification ministry said Thursday that Zhao's trip to Pyongyang may lead to a full-fledged recovery in bilateral relations between the two nations. Observers see the possibility of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visiting China later this year for a possible summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping. North Korea began resuming exchanges with China, its longtime ally and largest economic benefactor, in a limited manner after partially opening its border in August last year followin g its tight COVID-19 border shutdown. Source: Yonhap News Agency

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