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North Korea vows to develop China ties to 'new high'

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) speaks with Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Li Hongzhong during an event in Pyongyang, North Korea, July 28, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

Meeting with a visiting Chinese delegation in Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to develop the countries' relations to a "new high."

The Chinese officials, led by Communist Party Politburo member Li Hongzhong, were visiting the North Korean capital on Friday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. The Chinese delegation was the first to travel to Pyongyang 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," reported the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

A day earlier, Chinese and Russian officials had stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Kim at a military parade in the capital.

The Russian delegation was led by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Kim gave Shoigu a tour of North Korea's arsenal, including the Hwasong intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which was successfully tested in April. The Russian minister also visited two new drone designs, including one resembling the primary offensive strike drone used by the US Air Force.

Shoigu was making the first visit by a Russian defense minister to North Korea since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"[Kim] expressed his views on the issues of mutual concern in the struggle to safeguard the sovereignty, development, and interests of the two countries from the highhanded and arbitrary practices of the imperialists and to realize international justice and peace," the KCNA said.

China and Russia have been using their veto powers at the United Nations Security Council against efforts spearheaded by the United States to pile up more sanctions on North Korea over Pyongyang's missile tests, which have been growing in response to the US's increasing military presence and joint war games with allies, South Korea and Japan, in the Korean Peninsula.

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