Kim Jong Un hobnobbed with a visiting Chinese ballet troupe as he capped a weekend of celebrations in the North Korean capital that conspicuously lacked a show of military might that marked many previous festivals. Known in the country as the "Day of the Sun", it fell this year on Sunday.
On last year's Day of the Sun, Kim put on a military parade bristling with his latest ballistic missiles, exacerbating global tension over his nuclear weapon and missile programmes. Kim Yo-jong, the North Korean leader's younger sister, Choe Ryong-hae, vice chairman of the Workers' Party Central Committee, and Ri Su-yong, the vice chairman of the ruling Workers' Party, also attended the performance.
It would be the first visit to North Korea by a Chinese president since Hu Jintao back in 2005.
China, North Korea's traditional ally and biggest trading partner, has backed global sanctions against the reclusive regime over a series of nuclear and missile tests by the North, which had frayed their relations. And the South Korean government hopes the first inter-Korean summit on the South's side won't be the last.
"The inter-Korean summit can be seen as a touchstone, an overture ahead of a more important North Korea-US summit", he said, adding that if both summits were a success "many possibilities", such as normalization of political relations, economic cooperation, etc., would open up for all the participants, especially Pyongyang.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is to visit North Korea in June for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Japan's Yomiuiri Shimbun reported on Monday.More news: Laurel woman charged for stabbing man in the leg
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North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump are expected to hold their own summit talks sometime next month or in June.
Kim met Song on Saturday to exchange "deep thoughts" on global issues of concern to North Korea and China and vowed to improve bilateral relations, according to the state media.
South Korea and North Korea will hold this week talks at a high level, which will determine the agenda of the summit of leaders of the two countries, which is scheduled for April 27.
One way to resolve the conflict could involve returning the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone to its original state, the Munhwa Ilbo newspaper said.