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N.K. media puts Putin before Xi on list of foreign leaders offering New Year's greetings

All Headlines 09:43 January 01, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's state media on Saturday put Russian President Vladimir Putin before Chinese President Xi Jinping on the list of foreign leaders who sent North Korean leader Kim Jong-un New Year's cards, an apparent indication of diplomatic estrangement between Pyongyang and Beijing.

In an article, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) enumerated a series of foreign heads of state, political leaders and other dignitaries. It did not mention them by name and only printed their job titles.

Until 2014, the KCNA had published separate articles covering New Year's greetings from the communist leadership of China, its traditional partner country. But last year, it stopped publishing such articles.

Since December 2013 when the North executed Jang Song-thaek, the once-powerful uncle of the North Korean leader, the relationship between North Korea and China has been seen as deteriorating. Jang had been a pivotal figure in handling economic and diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The tensions between Pyongyang and Beijing have further escalated, as the latter has actively participated in the implementation of international sanctions against the provocative state that were imposed in response to a series of the North's nuclear and missile tests last year.

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