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N. Korea's ruling party delegation embarks on trip to China, Vietnam, Laos

March 22, 2024 - 10:57 By Yonhap
This image shows Kim Song-nam (Right), head of the country's ruling party delegation, before he embarked on a three-nation tour to China, Vietnam and Laos on Thursday. (KCNA)

North Korea's ruling party delegation has arrived in Beijing on a three-nation tour, state media reported Friday, in a move seen aimed at strengthening ties with countries sharing the socialist ideology.

The delegation, led by Kim Song-nam, director of the international department at the Workers' Party, was greeted by the assistant to the head of the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party at an airport Thursday, the Korean Central News Agency said, without providing details on the purpose of the trip.

It marked Kim's first known overseas trip since he was appointed to the post in 2021. Kim, who served as an interpreter for North Korea's late founder Kim Il-sung and former leader Kim Jong-il, is known as a China expert.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between North Korea and China. The North declared 2024 as the year of North Korea-China friendship, a designation first introduced in 2009 to mark the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic relations.

Meanwhile, Wang Huning, a member of the standing committee of the political bureau of the Chinese Communist Party, met with Kim on Thursday, according to the website of the Chinese Embassy in North Korea.

Wang voiced China's willingness to promote bilateral ties with Pyongyang and proposed that the two nations work together to create a "peaceful and stable external environment," read a statement uploaded by the embassy. In response, Kim expressed hope that the two countries could promote exchanges and cooperation in various fields in the landmark year.

In a separate dispatch, the KCNA said the tour will take the North Korean delegation to Vietnam and Laos.

Kim's trip came as North Korea appears to be resuming diplomatic activity with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, following years of Pyongyang's COVID-19 border shutdowns.

Laos plans to host the ASEAN Regional Forum and other ASEAN-related meetings as this year's chair country. The annual ARF is the sole regional forum joined by North Korea.

ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam. (Yonhap)