Senior Chinese diplomat, "large-scale" art troupe headed to North Korea: KCNA

North Korea should not expect rewards from talks with the US until 'irreversible' denuclearization steps are taken

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.

Song Tao, who serves as head of the International Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and the art troupe will participate in the 31st April Spring Friendship Art Festival (ASFAF).

"I think this will play a positive role in the deepening the cultural exchanges between China and the DPRK", Geng said, using the North's acronym.

North Korea should not expect rewards from talks with the US until 'irreversible' denuclearization steps are taken
Senior Chinese diplomat, "large-scale" art troupe headed to North Korea: KCNA

"The prestigious large-scale art troupe of China will contribute to consolidating the cornerstone of the DPRK-China cultural exchange and strengthening the traditional DPRK-China friendly relations onto a new high stage", KCNA said in an English-language report.

This photo, carried by North Korea's Rodong Sinmun on March 28, 2018, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) meeting with Song Tao (R), the head of the global department at the Central Committee of the Communist Party, in what appears to be a special train that carried Kim to China.

It added that the leader mentioned his upcoming summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, which is to be held on April 27 in the truce village of Panmunjom in the heavily fortified border that divides the rival nations.

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"The move appears meant to strengthen cultural exchanges following the North-China summit", Baik Tae-hyun, spokesman at Seoul's unification ministry, told a press briefing.

The trip, during which he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, was Kim's first since taking power six years ago, and was considered an attempt to fix traditionally warm ties with China that have deteriorated over the North's development of ballistic missile and nuclear weapons technology and China's enforcement of United Nations economic sanctions. It was his first overseas trip since he took office in late 2011.

Song last visited the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, in November to discuss the outcome of China's 19th Communist Party Congress.

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On Monday, Trump said that he hopes to strike a deal on ridding North Korea of nuclear weapons. For China, the Xi-Kim summit apparently helped highlight Beijing's leverage over the North in resolving the North's nuclear standoff.

One North Korean expert said the visit was a sign that China's diplomacy on Pyongyang is "getting more active" and suggests it is now rooted in two primary goals.

More news: North Korean leader wants security guarantee from Washington

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