Pyongyang’s man in Beijing throws banquet

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Pyongyang’s man in Beijing throws banquet

North Korea’s top envoy in China hosted a banquet on the occasion of this week’s anniversary of the country’s founding, emphasizing Pyongyang’s commitment to advancing its strong ties with China, the North’s state media reported Sunday.

The banquet was held Thursday in Beijing with officials from the two countries, including North Korean Ambassador to China Ji Jae-ryong, and diplomats of other countries, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Ji emphasized the traditionally strong ties between North Korea and China, and the strengthening of the relations based on mutual trust and friendliness between its leader Kim Jong-un and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the KCNA said.

He also expressed Pyongyang’s commitment to advancing relations and working together to secure peace and stability both in the Northeast Asian region and the world, it added.

China and North Korea have been showing off their strong relations, particularly since Xi’s trip to Pyongyang in June, which was the first visit by a Chinese head of state to North Korea in 14 years. North Korean leader Kim has visited China four times since March 2018.

Last week, China’s Foreign Minster Wang Yi also visited Pyongyang, raising speculation that his trip was aimed at arranging another visit by Kim to Beijing.

North Korea is to celebrate the 71st anniversary of its founding on Monday. A unification ministry official in Seoul earlier said that the North is expected to celebrate its founding anniversary this week on a scale similar to that of previous years, without holding a military parade.

North Korea’s official newspaper urged its people Sunday to pursue “self-reliance” in an apparent bid to strengthen internal unity amid a prolonged delay in the resumption of stalled nuclear talks with the United States.

“The basic theme in the continued struggle on the international stage taking place yesterday and today is [a choice] between self-reliance and subjugation,” the Rodong Sinmun said in an article.

“A step of yielding to those hostile to us could lead to two steps, ten steps and even a hundred steps of yielding,” it added. “The only way to achieve prosperity from generation to generation is self-reliance, independence and self-defense.”

The latest emphasis on self-reliance is seen as an attempt to strengthen internal unity amid stalemated denuclearization talks with the United States.

The nuclear talks have been stalled since the two failed to find common ground over North Korea’s denuclearization steps and relief from sanctions, a major hurdle for Pyongyang’s economy.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed in late June to resume working-level nuclear talks, but the talks have yet to take place.

As the stalemate drags on, the North has urged its people to stop seeking outside help in advancing its economy. It has also justified its recent weapons tests, citing joint military drills by South Korea and the United States, and Seoul’s plan to bring in high-tech weapons from the ally.

Recently, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said that hopes for the negotiations are “gradually disappearing.”

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