Both Russia and China are sending government delegations to North Korea this week for events marking the 70th anniversary of the armistice that halted fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War.
The visits suggest North Korea is further opening up after years of pandemic isolation and is eager to showcase its partnerships with authoritarian neighbors in the face of deepening nuclear tensions with Washington, Seoul and Tokyo.
North Korea’s state media said Wednesday that a Russian delegation led by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Pyongyang Tuesday evening where they were greeted by senior North Korean officials including Defense Minister Kang Sun Nam. Shoigu’s ministry said the delegation’s visit will help strengthen relations and mark “an important stage” in the development of bilateral cooperation.
China’s ruling Communist Party is also sending a midlevel official, Li Hongzhong, in hopes of restoring exchanges between the allies.
North Korea has been preparing huge celebrations of the anniversary that are likely to be capped off by a military parade in the capital, Pyongyang, where leader Kim Jong Un could showcase his most powerful, nuclear-capable missiles designed to target neighboring rivals and the U.S.