North Korea, China 'discussing Xi Jinping visit to Pyongyang'

North Korean guards standing face-to-face at the Joint Security Area, a small strip of land in the truce village of Panmunjom

North Korean guards standing face-to-face at the Joint Security Area, a small strip of land in the truce village of Panmunjom

Kim said that the Chinese art troupe's visit to the North "serves as a significant occasion in carrying forward and further consolidating the tradition of the two countries' ties", the Korean Central News Agency reported Tuesday.

In pictures released by state media from a ballet performance late on Monday, Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, were seen applauding, posing with dancers, and laughing with the head of the Chinese Communist Party's worldwide liaison department, Song Tao. Kim Yo-jong, the North Korean leader's younger sister, Choe Ryong-hae, vice chairman of the Workers' Party Central Committee, and Ri Su-yong, the vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party, also attended the performance.

South Korea has listed 3 main issues to be discussed at its summit with North Korea next week.

According to the Munha report, the South Korean government official also said Moon and Kim were expected to hold in-depth discussions on the possibility of hosting a "second inter-Korean summit" next year. Song, however, greeted Kim when he arrived in the Chinese border city of Dandong last month. He returned to Beijing without meeting Kim, which was seen as a sign of their strained relations.

South and North Korea are discussing plans to announce an official end to the military conflict between the two countries that are still technically at war, the Munhwa Ilbo newspaper reported, citing an unidentified South Korean official.

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Kim reportedly invited Xi to North Korea during his visit to China in late March.

South Korea and a US-led United Nations force are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

Reclusive North Korea is pursuing nuclear and missile programmes in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions and has made no secret of its plans to develop a missile capable of hitting the USA mainland. With the test of that long-range missile in November, the North said it had "realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force".

Xi's planned trip to Pyongyang appeared to have been on the agenda of a weekend meeting between Kim and a senior Chinese official in Pyongyang, it said.

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