No missiles but ballet as North Korea's Kim puts on a show

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In pictures released by state media from a ballet performance late on Monday, Kim and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, were seen applauding, posing with dancers, and laughing with the head of the Chinese Communist Party's worldwide liaison department, Song Tao.

In a sign of closer ties, a Chinese art troupe, led by Song Tao, the head of the worldwide department at the Central Committee of the Communist Party, arrived in Pyongyang on Friday for the April Spring Friendship Art Festival.

Trump agreed last month to the landmark summit with the nuclear-armed North, but a specific date or venue has not been set.

Song led a Chinese troupe to North Korea for the festival. The North also had expressed readiness to hold a similar event with the President of the United States.

Kim's warm welcome contrasts with Song's last visit to Pyongyang last November, when he was sent as Xi's special envoy to discuss the outcome of China's 19th Party Congress. This was announced on Monday, April 16, South Korean TV channel Wai-ti-al government sources, reports "TASS".

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The news outlet added that China will make a final decision after observing the results of the planned US-North summit.

Xi is expected to visit in late May or early June, after the U.S.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un asked for China's economic assistance, as well as backing for the regime's survival and the easing of military threats, Asahi Shimbun reported Tuesday.

Reclusive North Korea is pursuing nuclear and missile programmes in defiance of UN Security Council sanctions and has made no secret of its plans to develop a missile capable of hitting the USA mainland. "It is hard to expect the two leaders to sign the deal this time as they remain far apart on who and how to sign it", said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies. Koreans from all four corners of the peninsula hope that Panmunjom - for so long a symbol of division - may become a symbol of peace as the regular meeting place for the leaders of the two Koreas.

It would be the first visit to North Korea by a Chinese president since Hu Jintao back in 2005. South Korea's Munhwa Ilbo newspaper reported on Tuesday that the two sides had been discussing plans for a permanent end to the war at the North-South summit, citing an unidentified South Korean official with knowledge of the matter.

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