Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived amid pomp and pageantry in North Korea on Thursday, the first time a Chinese leader has traveled to the Hermit Kingdom in 14 years.
North Korean President Kim Jong Un and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, greeted Xi and other Chinese officials at the airport during an arrival ceremony that included a 21-gun salute and a military band, Chinese state media reported.
Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong — who has been involved in negotiations with the United States on nuclear weapons — also was on hand.
Crowds greeted Xi along the route lined with flags and banners touting their friendship as he was driven through Pyongyang in a convertible car to the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun where Kim’s grandfather and father lie in state.
Xi’s visit comes as both he and Kim are in negotiations with President Trump – Xi over trade and Kim over denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.
Next week, Xi is expected to meet with Trump at the G-20 summit in Japan and are expected to discuss the nuclear talks with North Korea and the tariff dispute.
”Comrade Xi Jinping is visiting…in the face of crucial and grave tasks due to complex international relations, which clearly shows the Chinese party and the government place high significance on the friendship,” North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.
Xi, who will spend two days with Kim in Pyongyang, is expected to attend a banquet and watch a gymnastic performance.
He’s also scheduled to pay tribute at the Friendship Tower, which commemorates Chinese troops who fought with North Korea during the Korean War.
Because the conflict ended in a truce, North Korea is still technically at war with South Korea.