'I Love Thee, China': North Korea woos Xi in lavish state visit

21 June 2019 - 41   - 0

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed that strengthening bilateral ties, at a time of “serious and complicated” international affairs, was good for regional peace, North Korean state media said on Friday.

Xi arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday for a two-day visit, the first by a Chinese leader in 14 years, and received a lavish welcome that included a performance of the song “I Love Thee, China” and thousands of people holding up placards that formed a picture of Xi’s face and the Chinese flag.

China is the North’s only major ally and Xi’s visit is aimed at bolstering Pyongyang against pressure from U.N. sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs and a breakdown in denuclearization talks with the United States.

The visit also comes a week before Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump meet at the G20 summit in Osaka amid an ongoing trade dispute.

Video footage and photos released by North Korean state media showed Kim and Xi with wide smiles at Pyongyang airport. They drove through the streets of the capital in an open top limousine, and later attended a “Mass Games” propaganda show.

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