Xi to Visit N.Korea in June

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

North Korea and China continue to warm ties ahead of Pyongyang's planned summits with Seoul and Washington, with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hailing Chinese art troupe's visit to Pyongyang as "significant".

A South Korean delegation met with Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang on March 5. 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.

Kim invited Xi when he visited Beijing last month.

The festival is a biennial event held to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, North Korea's founder and grandfather of the current leader.

On April 27, Kim is scheduled to make history when he meets South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a summit just inside South Korean territory on the fortified border that divides the two countries.

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Quoting sources in North Korea and China, senior Chinese diplomat Song Tao discussed the plans when he went to Pyongyang last week along with a group of Chinese artists.

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.

South Korea has listed 3 main issues to be discussed at its summit with North Korea next week. "It is hard to expect the two leaders to sign the deal this time as they remain far apart on who and how to sign it", said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies. 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". Koreans from all four corners of the peninsula hope that Panmunjom - for so long a symbol of division - may become a symbol of peace as the regular meeting place for the leaders of the two Koreas.

Kim, in a meeting with Song on Sunday, said he was personally meeting the visiting performers out of respect for Chinese President Xi Jinping and said he wanted to launch a "fresh phase of development" of relations between their countries.

While North Korea and China are mending ties, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe headed to the USA on Tuesday to meet Trump to discuss both trade and Trump's plans for a summit with the North Korean leader.

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