North Korean leader Kim Jong-un mailed greeting cards to the leaders of 30 countries to mark the Lunar New Year but left out traditional allies China and Russia. One diplomatic source said this is a sign of fractured relations with Beijing and Moscow.
The North's state press on Tuesday said Kim mailed greeting cards to the leaders of some 30 countries including Laos, Lebanon, Mongolia and Vietnam, but China and Russia were conspicuously absent from the list.
Chinese President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping all sent New Year's greeting cards to Kim through the Chinese Embassy in Pyongyang on Dec. 28, but the North Korean leader did not respond. Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a greeting card around the same time but received no letter in response either.
It is a long-held tradition for the North Korean leader to exchange New Year's greeting cards with the heads of China, Russia and other allies. But Kim was apparently peeved by China and Russia's backing for the UN Security Council Resolution on Jan. 23 condemning North Korea's rocket launch.
Meanwhile, the official Rodong Sinmun reported that Kim sent a card to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a rare gesture that came despite UN condemnation of the rocket launch.