In its report of the delegation's trip to China, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in an English report:"Welcoming the friendship group's visit to China, Xi Jinping said that China is attaching very importance to the work to propel the traditional friendship between the two countries sealed in blood to a higher stage as required by the new era".
Despite North Korea being osctracised by most of the world for its defiance of UNSC norms on nuclear proliferation, India has maintained diplomatic ties with Pyongyang. In the past year, India had joined the US and allies in "deploring" North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile tests, although it had earlier refrained from such a strong language. This is in the context of the North Korea nuclear programme having links with Pakistan's nuclear programme, developed by disgraced nuclear scientist A Q Khan. "The DPRK (North Korean) side emphasized that as a friendly country DPRK will never allow any action that would create concerns for India's security".
It may be recalled that in October a year ago, India had made it clear that it will not shut its embassy in North Korea, telling the United States it must have some friendly countries that have embassies in Pyongyang so that "communication channels are open". Trade between the two countries totalled $133.4 million in 2016-17, a paltry figure for India, but not insignificant for North Korea, since the former was it's third-largest trading partner.
Kim particularly criticised USA national security adviser John Bolton, who has called for North Korea in order to give up its nuclear arsenal in a deal that mirrors Libya's desertion of its weapons because of the mass destruction.
According to the NK Pro leadership tracker, Mr Pak regularly attends events or guidance visits with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, with the most recent mention coming on Feb 2 when he went with the young leader to the Kumunsan Palace of the Sun. The North Koreans also briefed Gen. Singh about the recent developments in the Korean peninsula including the peace talks between the two Koreas. North Korean Foreign minister Ri Su Yong had visited India on a bilateral and standalone visit from April 12 to 14, 2015 and had sought humanitarian assistance.
India and North Korea established formal diplomatic relations on December 10, 1973 and this year marks the 45th year of establishment of diplomatic relations.
India has sent a government minister to North Korea for the first time in almost two decades for talks on political and regional issues, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday, following signs of a thaw on the Korean peninsula.
In April past year, India had sided with the United Nations by banning all trade with North Korea, except for food and medicine.
In what could indicate more trade and interaction now between the two countries, the MEA said, "The two sides chose to explore possibilities of cooperation in the areas of mutual interest, including vocational education, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, promotion of yoga and traditional medicines".