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NK names Putin before Xi in list of allies that sent New Year's greetings to leader Kim

North Korea's state media has mentioned Russian President Vladimir Putin before Chinese President Xi Jinping when it called out the names of foreign leaders who sent its leader Kim Jong-un New Year's cards, an indication that diplomatic relations between the neighbors remain strained.

The Korean Central News Agency enumerated a list of foreign heads of state, political leaders and prominent figures from all over the world in the article published Sunday, only by their titles and not revealing their names.

It didn't mention anything about what the messages were.

This is the fourth consecutive year that China has been moved back behind Russia in the North Korea's announcement of the list.


Vladimir Putin (AFP-Yonhap)
Vladimir Putin (AFP-Yonhap)

From 2009 to 2014, the North highlighted the strong alliance with China by running a separate piece in the news outlet about the New Year's card it had received from Beijing.

Observers here said the move by Pyongyang indicates the current state of frayed ties after Kim Jong-un executed his uncle Jang Song-thaek in 2013, a pivotal figure in handling economic and diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Tensions between Pyongyang and Beijing have escalated amid the North moving forward with nuclear and missile provocations in recent years. China has taken part in the implementation of fresh sanctions against the North. (Yonhap)