Senior Chinese official to visit North Korea with art troupe

N. Korean leader makes 1st mention of talks with US, stoking confidence about summit

China will send a Communist Party official with an art troupe to North Korea for a festival celebrating the country's founder, state media said Wednesday, as the neighbours seek to heal battered relations.

Song Tao, the head of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee's worldwide department, will lead the mission.

At Monday's meeting, Kim reportedly mentioned the inter-Korean summit scheduled for April 27th.

Song Tao visited the DPRK in November previous year as a special envoy of President Xi with the objective of debriefing North Korean officials on the 19th National Congress of the CPC.

Mongolia has also been floated as a possible location of the summit, which would follow a first meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae In slated for April 27 at the truce village of Panmunjeom. It was also held on April 11th past year.

"We will closely watch whether a concert in China by a North Korean art troupe could be pushed for again after its thwarted performance in December 2015".

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to raise North Korea's human rights situation in addition to denuclearization during his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the State Department said Tuesday.

"Hopefully, it'll be a relationship that's much different than it's been for many, many years."

"I think there'll be great respect paid by both parties".

The trip will "consolidate the cornerstone of the DPRK-China cultural exchange and strengthening the traditional DPRK-China friendly relations onto a new high stage", the KCNA said, referring to the acronym of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Although Kim Jong-un's attendance is not mandatory, he has at times given speeches at the event.

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