North Korea lauded its ties with historic ally China on Friday as Xi Jinping wrapped up a highly symbolic two-day visit to his nuclear-armed neighbour, with both countries facing deadlock in their negotiations with US President Donald Trump.
Kim Jong Un told the Chinese president that his visit was an opportunity to demonstrate “the immutability and invincibility of the DPRK-China friendship before the world”, the KCNA news agency reported, using the abbreviation of North Korea’s official name.
At a time when “serious and complicated changes are happening in international and regional situations”, KCNA said, the two leaders agreed to “promote close strategic communication” and develop their “common interests”.
Pyongyang has pulled out all the stops to welcome Xi, the first Chinese president to visit in 14 years — a period in which Pyongyang has carried out five nuclear tests and launched missiles capable of reaching the entire US mainland.
China always prefers stability in its neighbourhood and the North’s nuclear provocations strained the relationship between the Cold War allies, with Beijing backing UN sanctions on Pyongyang and Kim not visiting to pay his respects for more than six years after inheriting power.
But as he embarked on a flurry of diplomacy last year, Kim ensured that Xi — whose country is the North’s key diplomatic supporter and main provider of trade and aid — was the first head of state he met.
Kim travelled to China three more times to meet Xi, and Pyongyang has been increasingly keen for the Chinese president to reciprocate.