A high-level Chinese military delegation arrived in North Korea on Saturday, just weeks after the reclusive country introduced its next leader to the world. The Chinese delegation led by Gen. Guo Boxiong, vice chairman of Beijing's Central Military Commission was greeted at Pyongyang's airport by top North Korean military officers, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.
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 in late September. Kim himself took power in 1994 after the death of his father, national founder Kim Il Sung.
Guo's delegation is to meet with North Korean military and national leaders during its four-day visit to discuss issues of mutual concern, China's official Xinhua News Agency said. It will also attend commemorations of the 60th anniversary of Chinese troops' entry into the Korean War, it said.
North Korea held a welcoming ceremony for Guo at the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Memorial Tower in Pyongyang, and he and top North Korean officer Ri Yong Ho reviewed a guard of honor, KCNA said.
The Korean peninsula is still technically at war because the Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The United States, which fought alongside South Korea, stations 28,500 troops in the South to deter any North Korean aggression.