North Korea, China confident of deepening ties

China is North Korea`s main source of economic and diplomatic support.

Seoul: North Korean and Chinese military officers meeting in Pyongyang said ties between the communist neighbours will only grow stronger, state media reported.

A Chinese military delegation, led by Gen Guo Boxiong, vice chairman of Beijing`s Central Military Commission, arrived in North Korea yesterday for a four-day trip.

China, which backed North Korea during the 1950-53 Korean War, is the country`s main source of economic and diplomatic support. A visit from someone as senior as Guo is deemed crucial as North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il moves to transfer power to his son in what would be the country`s second hereditary succession.

Kim, 68, made his youngest son, Kim Jong-Un, a four-star general and gave him key political posts late last month. Kim himself took power in 1994 after the death of his father, national founder Kim Il Sung.

Top North Korean military officer Ri Yong Ho, speaking at a banquet yesterday, said Guo`s visit "greatly encourages" North Koreans and showed that bilateral ties would grow stronger. Guo agreed that bilateral ties would be strengthened, the North`s Korean Central News Agency reported.

Guo and Ri, who is vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Workers` Party of Korea and chief of the General Staff of the Korean People`s Army, earlier reviewed a guard of honour in a welcoming ceremony.