After his nearly three-week disappearance, Kim Jong Un gave a shout-out to Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday, congratulating him for his “success” in managing the coronavirus outbreak and wishing him “good health,” according to reports.
The North Korean leader sent a verbal message of congratulations, saying Xi was “seizing a chance of victory in the war against the unprecedented epidemic,” Bloomberg News reported, citing the official Korean Central News Agency.
Kim also wished the Chinese leader “good health,” as he and the ruling Communist Party move forward to “win a final victory,” according to KCNA.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry declined to provide details on the message from Kim after his recent prolonged absence from public view before he re-emerged May 1 for a ribbon-cutting event at a fertilizer factory.
“China and North Korea are close neighbors and have maintained close communications over the fighting of the coronavirus,” ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters Friday, according to Bloomberg.
Last month, Reuters that China had sent a medical team to the Hermit Kingdom to advise on Kim.
The South Korea-based JoongAng Daily newspaper reported that Kim had been in self-quarantine after one of his bodyguards was confirmed with a coronavirus infection.
Meanwhile, Pyongyang on Friday lashed out at Seoul over recent military drills, as a North Korean military representative said that the maneuvers were a grave provocation that demanded a reaction, Reuters reported, citing a statement carried by KCNA.
“The recent drill served as an opportunity which awakened us once again to the obvious fact that the enemies remain enemies all the time,” the statement said.
Citing a military exercise by the Republic of Korea Air Force Air Combat Command on Wednesday, North Korea said the drills violated inter-Korean agreements aimed at reducing military tensions.
“Everything is now going back to the starting point before the north-south summit meeting in 2018,” the statement said.
On Sunday, South Korea said North Korean forces fired several shots toward a South Korean guard post at the Demilitarized Zone, which separates the two countries. In response, South Korean troops fired warning shots.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the shots fired by North Korea were likely “accidental.”