N.Korea to convene parliament on Wednesday

N.Korea to convene parliament on Wednesday

An empty seat presumed to be the leader's could be seen in photographs distributed by North Korea's central news agency and there was no mention of his attendance in the state media reports.

The trip will "consolidate the cornerstone of the DPRK-China cultural exchange and strengthening the traditional DPRK-China friendly relations onto a new high stage", the KCNA said, referring to the acronym of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. This year's event will be held from Wednesday to next Tuesday.

China will send a Communist Party official with an art troupe to North Korea for a festival celebrating the country's founder, state media said Wednesday, as the neighbours seek to heal battered relations.

Seoul, Baik added, "will watch with interest whether it will lead to a performance in China by North Korean artists that was cancelled in December 2015".

The comments come as diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear crisis moves forward with surprising speed after the North agreed to join the Olympics, opening the door for the first formal talks with Seoul in more than two years and reducing tensions that had spiked after months of saber-rattling and missile and nuclear tests by the North.

China, the North's only ally and main economic benefactor, has been implementing tough worldwide sanctions against North Korea.

President Donald Trump offered a timeline Monday, saying the summit would be held in May or early June, but the communist state had largely maintained silence on the issue after delivering an invitation via South Korean envoys. For China, the Xi-Kim summit apparently helped highlight Beijing's leverage over the North in resolving the North's nuclear standoff.

"Meetings are being set up right now between myself and Kim Jong Un", Trump told reporters as quoted by a White House press pool report.