North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Chinese senior diplomat Song Tao and feted a Chinese art troupe led by Song, North Korean state media said on Sunday, indicating closer ties with China after Kim's surprise visit to Beijing last month.
Kim made his first visit to China in March, in a secret trip that reopened ties between the two governments after years of strained relations due to Beijing's opposition to Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme and support of worldwide sanctions against North Korea.
The two countries' relations had been icy since China complied with global sanctions against trade with North Korea a year ago in response to nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
The Chinese art troupe, led by Song, the head of the Communist Party's International Department, left for North Korea on Friday for an April Spring Friendship Art Festival.
Song reportedly responded by saying it is China's unshakable policy to consolidate and develop their relations. Kim's wife, Ri Sol-ju, attended. The 34-year-old leader described his visit to China last month as "unforgettable" thanks to the "warm comradeship" of the Chinese.
During the meeting with Song, Kim also said he would "positively carry forward and develop the traditional North Korea-China friendship into a fresh phase of development" by "further strengthening of the bilateral relations", KCNA reported.
The warm welcome is in stark contrast to when Song was not permitted to meet Kim during a visit as the Chinese president's special envoy last November. Sent by President Xi Jinping to discuss the outcome of China's 19th Party Congress, Song had returned home without meeting Kim Jong-un.
China is North Korea's strongest economic and military ally, but their relationship cooled after Beijing joined sanctions previous year.
The broadcaster did not specify which issues were on the agenda but the widely expected meeting is believed to be a continuation of talks between Beijing and Pyongyang regarding Kim's upcoming summits with South Korea and the United States on denuclearization.