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N. Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets top Chinese official, calls for stronger ties with China!

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PYONGYANG: A top Chinese official Song Tao (head of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s international department, who was leading an art troupe to a spring festival here) has been personally greeted by N. Korean leader Kim Jong Un today.

On the occasion Kim Jong Un called for stronger ties with Beijing as the traditional allies seek to heal battered relations. Chinese delegation arrived just weeks after Kim made a surprise visit to Beijing and met Chinese President Xi Jinping, signaling an attempt by both leaders to shore up a key alliance ahead of a period of high-stakes diplomacy.

 Kim is expected to hold summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in this month and US President Donald Trump in the following weeks.

According to details Kim welcomed Song and his delegation in a meeting today at which Song conveyed Xi’s “warm greetings”. The two exchanged profound views on the important matters of mutual concern and the international situation, KCNA said, without providing details.

The Supreme Leader said that he would positively carry forward and develop the traditional DPRK-China friendship into a fresh phase of development as required by a new era. On his trip to Beijing, Kim had witnessed the remarkable achievement made by China and was happy for the brotherly Chinese people.

 

RELEVANT PIECE PUBLISHED EARLIER:

Kim’s clandestine visit to China before Trump’s May visit to North Korea

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China and Japan all set to speed-up preparations for air, marine contact mechanism

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SENDAI: China and Japan agreed to speed up preparations for launching an air and maritime contact mechanism in their ninth round of high-level consultations on maritime affairs held here from Thursday through Friday.

Officials from the two countries’ ministries on foreign affairs, defence, security, natural resources, environment, transportation, and agriculture and some other departments attended the talks.

The two sides held a plenary meeting on consultation mechanism and four working group meetings on politics and law, maritime defense, maritime law enforcement and security, as well as maritime economy. The two sides exchanged views on issues related to the East China Sea and discussed ways of maritime cooperation.

They made further progress on negotiations about launching a maritime and aerial communication mechanism between their defense departments as soon as possible, and agreed to speed up preparations for launching the mechanism.

They also agreed to enhance defense exchanges to promote mutual trust and discussed concrete plans for such exchanges. The Border Control Department of China’s Ministry of Public Security and the Japan Coast Guard agreed to continue cooperation in cracking down on transnational crimes including smuggling, human smuggling and drug trafficking, and exchange visits between experts according to the meeting minutes signed by both sides.

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Leaders of North and South Korea communicate via direct hotline!

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SEOUL: South Korea and North Korea today have set up a telephone line between their leaders, enabling direct dialogue between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who are also set to meet in person next week.

The direct hotline was established between Seoul’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae and the office of North Korea’s state affairs commission, which is headed by Kim. Cheong Wa Dae officials have said direct communication between the countries’ leaders may help further ease tension on the Korean Peninsula, noting many cross-border conflicts between the two Koreas in the past may have partly been caused by misunderstanding or a lack of communication.

The Koreas technically remain at war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The agreement on a new hotline, the first of its kind connecting the leaders of the two Koreas, came early last month when Moon’s top security adviser Chung Eui-yong traveled to Pyongyang for an unprecedented meeting with the North Korean leader.

There, Kim agreed to hold a bilateral summit with the South Korean president, as well as United States President Donald Trump.

The Moon-Kim meeting will be held next Friday. It is expected to be followed by the first-ever US-North Korea summit in May or early June. The upcoming inter-Korean summit will be the third of its kind after two summits held in 2000 and 2007.

It will be held on the South Korean side of the joint security area inside the heavily-fortified demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas, making Kim the first North Korean leader to step on South Korean soil since the end of the Korean War.

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S. Korea protests Japanese officials’ visit to controversial war shrine

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SEOUL: South Korea today protested a group of high-level Japanese officials’ visit to a historically controversial war shrine that honors Japanese World War II criminals.

A group of 76 high-ranking government officials and lawmakers visited Yasukuni Shrine in the morning and paid respects ahead of the shrine’s annual traditional spring rituals to honor the gods enshrined there.

The group included State Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahisa Sato and Shinsuke Okuno, state minister for internal affairs and communications, according to Kyodo News.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly did not send a ritual offering to the shrine despite his regular offerings to the shrine in the past that triggered angry backlash from Seoul.

“It is our government’s basic position that a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine cannot be justified under any circumstance since it is a symbolic structure glorifying Japan’s past colonial rule and aggression,” an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Seoul said.

Seoul “calls on Japan to recover the trust of its neighboring countries on the basis of humble self-reflection and repentance for its history,” the official said.

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