North Korea sends delegation to China, Vietnam, Laos, KCNA says

SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) -North Korea has sent a delegation to China, Vietnam and Laos, state media KCNA said on Friday, as the isolated country expands its diplomatic engagement after COVID-19 lockdowns.

The group from North Korea's ruling Workers' Party of Korea, led by Kim Song Nam, alternate member of the Political Bureau and director of the International Department of the party's Central Committee, arrived in Beijing on Thursday, KCNA said.

The North Korean senior official has met with the fourth-ranked leader in China's Communist Party, Wang Huning, as well as the head of the party's International Liaison Department, Liu Jianchao, according to Chinese state media.

Wang said China was willing to work with North Korea to promote friendship, deepen unity and collaboration, strengthen strategic communication and jointly create a peaceful and stable external environment, Chinese state radio said late Thursday.

Liu, in his meeting with Kim, shared an in-depth exchange of views on strengthening inter-party exchanges and developing friendly cooperative relations, the official Xinhua said on Friday.

In both meetings, the officials spoke about implementing the consensus reached by their top leadership.

In November, Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasised cooperating with North Korea for regional and global peace, stability and prosperity. At the start of this year, North Korea's Kim Jong Un and Xi vowed closer ties.

A Russian delegation led by Oleg Kozhemyako, governor of the Russian far eastern region of Primorsky Krai bordering North Korea, also met North Korean leaders at Pyongyang and visited a greenhouse farm on Thursday, KCNA said.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee, and Liz Lee in Beijing and China bureaux; Editing by William Mallard and Gerry Doyle)