July 15 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un has been exchanging letters with Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga on the occasion of a Mongolian anniversary, North Korean state media says.
Korean Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported Wednesday Battulga thanked Kim for sending a congratulatory message to the Mongolian leader on the 99th anniversary of the Mongolian People's Revolution.
"I express my sincere gratitude for your warm felicitations on the 99th anniversary of the People's Revolution," Battulga reportedly said.
The Mongolian president said the two countries share a "historical and traditional friendship" because of the efforts of "previous generations of leaders."
"I will continue to cooperate with your highly esteemed self [Kim Jong Un] in order to ceaselessly advance this relationship to meet the interests of our two peoples," Battulga said in his message, according to the Rodong.
Mongolia pursued democratization and declared itself a nuclear weapon-free zone following the collapse of the Soviet Union, but it has maintained a tradition of friendship with Pyongyang.
Ulaanbaatar has been playing a mediating role in North Korea talks behind the scenes. In 2019, a former Mongolian official told UPI a future U.S.-North Korea summit in the Mongolian capital could not be ruled out.
Mongolia has also hosted Japanese and North Korean officials in recent years; Tokyo and Pyongyang have yet to resolve the issue of Japanese citizens abducted to the North.
North Korea has said all Japanese citizens forcibly taken to the country have been repatriated, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said family members are still missing.
KCNA said in June the Japanese claims of abduction are false, and that Tokyo "has no qualifications" to raise the issue of abductions.
In 2002, North Korea did repatriate Japanese citizens, including Yasushi Chimura and his wife, Fukie.
Tamotsu Chimura, the father of Yasushi, died Saturday at age 93, Jiji Press reported.
Chimura's death comes after the death of Shigeru Yokota, the father of Megumi Yokota, a Japanese citizen who remains missing after being kidnapped to North Korea in 1977.