Chinese President Xi Jinping meets visiting senior North Korean official, watches art performance

China's President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan (both right) with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju (both left) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in early January 2019. Their two countries are boasting close ties
China's President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan (both right) with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju (both left) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in early January 2019. Their two countries are boasting close ties ahead of a second summit between the United States and North Korea set for February.PHOTO: AFP/KCNA VIA KNS

BEIJING - Chinese President Xi Jinping attended a rare concert by a North Korean state art troupe and met the delegation's chief, Chinese state media reported on Monday (Jan 28), as the two countries boasted close ties ahead of a second summit between the United States and North Korea.

According to Yonhap news agency, Mr Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan met Mr Ri Su Yong, vice-chairman of the North Korean ruling party's Central Committee, on Sunday and watched the performance by the North Korean artists, according to China's Xinhua News Agency.

The art delegation arrived in Beijing last Thursday to stage the first performance by a North Korean art troupe in China in three years since the North's Moranbong Band called off a planned performance in Beijing at the last minute in 2015.

The dispatch came a few weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made his fourth visit to China in less than a year and held talks with Mr Xi in an apparent show of strengthening relations between the two countries in the run-up to a second summit between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump set for late next month.

During his meeting with Mr Ri, President Xi said the art group's performance is an important event that celebrates the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relationship between Beijing and Pyongyang, Xinhua said.

Mr Xi also said that he and Mr Kim have agreed to further strengthen their ties during their four meetings, and China stands ready to work with the North to implement the "important consensus reached by the two sides, so as to better benefit the two peoples and contribute to world peace, stability, development and prosperity", according to Xinhua.

Mr Ri expressed his gratitude to Mr Xi for showing interest in the North Korean art troupe's performance, saying the visit and art performance represented leader "Kim's deep feelings to Xi and the North Korean people's profound friendship with the Chinese people", Xinhua said.