Xi Fetes Kim Jong-un with Lavish Birthday Banquet

  • By Yoon Hyung-jun

    January 09, 2019 09:43

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was given a lavish welcome in the Chinese capital on Tuesday, which was his birthday.

    Kim emerged from his quarters around 4 p.m. to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, where Kim's wife Ri Sol-ju joined them later. Xi then threw a lavish banquet for Kim to celebrate his birthday, but state-run CCTV made no mention of Kim's visit.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his sister Kim Yo-jong (red-dotted) wave aboard a train to Beijing on Monday.

    The official Global Times newspaper said Kim's visit on his birthday demonstrates the "close relationship" between the two leaders.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang only said, "It is very normal for the two parties and two states to maintain friendly exchanges."

    Asked if China is seeking to use Kim's visit as leverage in trade negotiations with the U.S., he added, "China's diplomacy incorporates rich and diverse contents... I don't think we need to resort to any maneuvers to get our message across to the U.S. side."

    A car carrying North Korean leader Kim Jong-un heads to the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on Tuesday. /Yonhap

    Meanwhile, Cheong Wa Dae said it hopes Kim's visit to China "lays the groundwork" for a second U.S.-North Korea summit and expressed hopes of further improvements in diplomatic ties and steps toward denuclearization of North Korea.

    A Cheong Wa Dae spokesman declined to say whether Seoul was informed of Kim's visit by either North Korea or China. "We have maintained close communication and shared information," he added.

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