North Korea’s Kim vows to boost cooperation with China to ‘new high’

SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met the Chinese delegation which visited Pyongyang to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War and vowed to develop the two countries’ relations to a “new high”, the North’s state media said on Saturday.

Kim hosted a reception for the Chinese officials led by Communist Party Politburo member Li Hongzhong on Friday, the North’s KCNA news agency said. The Chinese delegation was the first to visit the reclusive state since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Reaffirmed at the talk was the stand of the parties and governments of the two countries to cope with the complicated international situation on their own initiative and steadily develop the friendship and comradely cooperation onto a new high stage,” KCNA said.

The meeting took place after Chinese and Russian officials stood shoulder to shoulder with Kim on Thursday as they reviewed his newest nuclear-capable missiles and attack drones at a military parade in the capital Pyongyang.

Russia and China have opposed U.S.-led efforts to impose more sanctions on North Korea over its pursuit of ballistic missiles in recent years, blaming U.S. exercises in the region for raising tensions.

The U.S. and South Korean navies held joint anti-submarine exercise in waters off South Korea’s southern island of Jeju on Saturday, the latest in a series of military drills by the allies in response to what they call North Korean provocations.

The exercise, involving a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine USS Annapolis which had arrived in South Korea this week, was held to better counter North Korea’s evolving missile threats, the South’s navy said.

(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; editing by Sandra Maler and Lincoln Feast)