North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Zhao Leji, ranked No. 3 in the ruling Chinese Communist Party's leadership, vowed to deepen bilateral ties in their meeting Saturday in Pyongyang, according to Chinese state-run media.

As this year marks the 75th anniversary of the two countries' diplomatic relations, Kim said North Korea is willing to "deepen traditional friendship and write a new chapter" in bilateral relations, China's official Xinhua News Agency said.

Combined photo shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) (KCNA/Kyodo) and Zhao Leji (Kyodo), ranked No. 3 in the ruling Chinese Communist Party's leadership.

Zhao, China's top legislator who made a three-day visit to the neighboring country through Saturday, said Beijing is eager to "promote bilateral pragmatic and mutually beneficial cooperation to achieve new results," the news agency said.

The chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee conveyed Chinese President Xi Jinping's cordial greetings and best wishes to Kim, who in response asked Zhao to send his "sincere greetings and best wishes" to Xi, Xinhua said.

The North Korean leader pointed out that the dispatch of a Chinese delegation led by Zhao to his country fully demonstrated Xi's "friendly sentiments" for the development of bilateral relations that are "deeply rooted and unbreakable," the report said.

Kim also said bilateral relations are constantly developing to "a new and higher stage in accordance with the requirements of the new era" and that it is his country's "unswerving policy" to further deepen their ties, according to the report.

Zhao Leji (center L), ranked No. 3 in the ruling Chinese Communist Party's leadership, and Choe Ryong Hae (center R), head of the Supreme People's Assembly in North Korea, attend in Pyongyang on April 12, 2024, the opening ceremony of an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and North Korea. (Kyodo)

Zhao was the highest Chinese official to visit North Korea since Xi traveled there in June 2019. During his stay, the top legislator held talks with his North Korean counterpart, Choe Ryong Hae, head of the Supreme People's Assembly, and attended a ceremony in honor of this year's anniversary, according to the two countries' media reports.

China is North Korea's closest and most influential ally economically. The two countries established diplomatic relations on Oct. 6, 1949.

Speculation is growing that Kim may visit China later this year to mark the anniversary.

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