North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has personally welcomed China’s new ambassador to Pyongyang, Chinese and North Korean state media reported Tuesday.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that Kim hosted a dinner for Chinese ambassador Liu Hongcai on Monday, “and had a warm talk with him.”
The report did not disclose the venue for the dinner, which was attended by four other North Korean officials, KCNA reported.
A brief report on the meeting carried by China’s official Xinhua news agency said that Kim and ambassador Liu “had a cordial discussion on the relations between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and China.”
Liu “conveyed the regards of Chinese President Hu Jintao to Kim” and Kim said that “the traditional friendship” between the two communist countries “would be further strengthened,” Xinhua reported.
Monday’s meeting follows a report from South Korea last week which said that the 68-year-old Kim was suffering from increasingly frail health, including kidney failure and partial paralysis following a stroke in 2008.
Nam Sung-Wook, director of the Institute for National Security Strategy, which is linked to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, told a forum in Seoul that photographic evidence confirmed Kim’s health was declining.
“Chair Kim Jong-Il is suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure and we believe he is undergoing kidney dialysis every two weeks,” South Korea’s Yonhap quoted Nam as saying.
Kim’s nuclear-armed regime is under pressure to return to six-nation disarmament talks grouping the two Koreas, China, Russia, the United States and Japan, which it abandoned last April. But Nam foresaw no early progress.
“The date for the next round of the six-party talks is unlikely to be fixed before June, as efforts to resume the talks have not yet led to any concrete results,” he said.