China top legislator Zhao says Beijing, Pyongyang set on developing friendly relations, KCNA says

SEOUL (Reuters) – China’s top legislator, Zhao Leji, said it is Beijing’s consistent strategic policy to defend and develop friendly relations between China and North Korea, North Korean state media KCNA said on Saturday.

Zhao, who is also the third ranked official of China’s Communist Party, met with North Korean counterpart Choe Ryong Hae and attended festivities commemorating the two countries’ friendship on Friday during a goodwill visit to Pyongyang, KCNA reported.

“General Secretary Xi Jinping and General Secretary Kim Jong Un have indicated the orientation” for the development of relations between the countries, Zhao said according to KCNA.

Pyongyang has been seeking to expand diplomatic exchanges with its main political ally after lifting COVID-19 restrictions.

In March, a senior North Korean official leading a delegation to China met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and held high-level talks in Beijing.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Sandra Maler)