Kim invited by China to WWII commemoration

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Kim invited by China to WWII commemoration

China said on Tuesday it has invited North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to attend a ceremonial military parade in Beijing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

While it remains to be seen whether the young leader will accept the invitation, an acceptance would mark the first time Kim has visited Pyongyang’s traditional ally since he took power in 2011.

In recent years, the North’s relations with China have remained strained.

When asked on Tuesday to specify whether Kim had been invited to the event slated for September, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei simply answered, “Yes,” but declined to elaborate further.

“We will host a parade in commemoration of the 70th anniversary for the victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression,” the spokesman, using China’s term for World War II, said during the ministry’s regular briefing in Beijing.

Hong added that the leaders of the nations involved in World War II had also been invited to attend the ceremony, implying that China has asked Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to participate.

Though the Chinese authority did not specify whether President Park Geun-hye had been invited, it is likely that she either has been or will be, particularly considering her cordial relationship with President Xi Jinping.

Despite the fact that Beijing has stood by Pyongyang over the past half century, relations between the two Communist states have hit a low point in recent years following North Korea’s third nuclear missile test, which China’s leadership’s adamantly opposed.

Kim has never held a summit with Xi Jinping - a telling sign of their strained relationship - who, by contrast, has met with President Park on five occasions.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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