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Xi Jinping ‘wants to improve ties with North Korea’

in ASIA/POLITICS/PRESS RELEASE/REGIONS by

President Xi Jinping has replied to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s message of congratulations after the Communist Party congress, with the Chinese leader saying he is hoping to improve ties between the two nations, according to North Korean state media. Details of Xi’s message were reported by North Korea’s official news agency and say it: “i wish that under the new situation the Chinese side will make efforts with the DPRK to promote relations between the two parties for stable development and thus make a positive contribution to providing the peoples of the two countries with greater happiness and to defend regional peace and stability and common prosperity”, Xi was quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency. China, the North’s sole major ally, has grown increasingly frustrated with Pyongyang and has repeatedly called for restraint, urging all sides to negotiate to lessons tensions on the Korean peninsula. Xi has previously sent messages to Kim, most recently last year when he expressed congratulations on the staging of a party congress in North Korea. A senior Chinese official also handed over a letter from Xi to Kim during celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean Workers’ Party two years ago. Hwang Jae-ho, an expert on Northeast Asia regional security at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, said the exchange of messages between Kim and Xi meant the two nations did not want their ties to further deteriorate. “Under the current situation, relations between China and North Korea cannot worsen any more”, Hwang said. Wang Sheng, a professor studying Korean affairs at Jilin University in northeast China, said Xi’s reply was a courtesy to Kim. “The interaction reflected that Sino-North Korea relations may warm up a little because there is no major obstacle between two countries except Pyongyang’s nuclear programme”, he said.

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