North Korea's reclusive leader Kim Jong Il met with Communist Party official Wang Jiarui on Friday, toasting the representative from North Korea's main ally and saying his regime stands by its commitment to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, state-run media in both countries said.
Kim told Wang that Pyongyang is "dedicated to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and hoped to peacefully coexist with all sides and would not like to see tension in the peninsula," China's official Xinhua news agency said.
Wang is believed to be the first high-level outside official to have face-to-face contact with Kim since the North Korean leader fell out of the public eye amid speculation about his health.
"The meeting appears to be aimed at telling Obama that Kim has no problem with his health and is well enough to meet with Obama's envoy," said Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea expert at Seoul's Dongguk University.
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