Seoul, July 27 (IANS) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has met official Russian and Chinese delegations that are visiting Pyongyang to attend celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the armistice of the 1950-53 Korean War, Pyongyang’s state media said on Thursday.

The Russian delegation led by Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, and China’s party-government delegation, led by Chinese Communist Party Politburo member Li Hongzhong, arrived in Pyongyang this week to attend events marking the landmark anniversary on July 27, which the North refers to as Victory Day, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The visits by the delegations from the two countries, which share strong ties with the North, marked a rare invitation of foreign guests given that the reclusive state has maintained strict border restrictions since the Covid-19 breakout.

According to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim and Shoigu on Wednesday visited the “Weaponry Exhibition-2023” event showcasing new weapons and equipment.

During their visit, Kim introduced weapons the North has produced under its national defense development plan and shared his views on the “worldwide trend of weaponry development and its strategy” and security agenda facing the two countries.

Photos released by state media showed various weapons on display, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) as well as unmanned aircraft that appeared to be modeled after the US surveillance aircraft Global Hawk.

Kim and Shoigu held a separate meeting the same day, where they discussed defense issues in a “cordial atmosphere overflowing with militant friendship”.

The KCNA said the two sides “reached a consensus” on their views on the topics discussed.

North Korea has been strengthening its ties with Russia despite international condemnation of Moscow’s ongoing war against Ukraine.

The KCNA also reported that Shoigu gave Kim a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

At midnight, the North Korean leader attended a performance ceremony marking Victory Day with the Chinese and Russian delegations.

Prior to the event, Kim met separately with the Chinese guests that arrived in Pyongyang on Wednesday.

During the meeting, Li gave Kim a letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping, the KCNA said, without providing details.

The North is expected to hold a large-scale military parade to mark the July 27 anniversary.