China's Xi says hopes to promote
relations with North Korea: KCNA
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[November 02, 2017]
By Soyoung Kim and Ben Blanchard
SEOUL/BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President
Xi Jinping replied to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's congratulatory
message on China's Communist Party Congress, saying he hopes to promote
ties between the two countries, North Korea's state news agency said on
The friendly exchange is relatively routine, but it comes as China has
come under intense pressure from the United States to do more to rein in
the North's missile and nuclear tests, which have raised tensions
China has been increasingly frustrated over ally North Korea's weapons
tests in defiance of U.N. resolutions, repeatedly calling for restraint
and urging all sides to speak and act carefully.
Xi's message comes days before U.S. President Donald Trump makes his
first official visit to Asia, with North Korea high on the agenda. It
follows Tuesday's unexpected agreement between Seoul and Beijing to move
beyond a year-long dispute over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile
system in South Korea.
"I wish that under the new situation, the Chinese side would make
efforts with the DPRK side to promote relations between the two parties
and the two countries to sustainable soundness and stable development
and thus make a positive contribution to ... defending regional peace
and stability and common prosperity," Xi wrote in the message dated Nov.
1, according to the North's official news agency KCNA.
DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying did not give details
of the message from Xi to Kim but confirmed it had been sent to express
thanks for Kim's congratulatory messages.
Many countries had sent messages to China over the congress and, to be
polite, China had written back to say thank you to them, she added.
"I believe this is in the interests of both sides and has important
meaning for resolving the present problem we are facing and maintaining
regional peace and stability," Hua told a daily news briefing in
The message had yet to be carried by Chinese state media as of Thursday
China and North Korea often exchange diplomatic correspondence and
ceremonial letters, although personal messages between the leaders tend
to be few.
[to top of second column]
China's President Xi Jinping claps after his speech as he and other
new Politburo Standing Committee members meet with the press at the
Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China October 25, 2017.
Zhao Tong, a North Korea expert at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in
Beijing, said the exchange of messages appeared "totally routine",
while noting that Kim's congratulatory message was shorter than one
sent after the previous Communist Party congress five years ago,
when Xi first came to power.
After a flurry of activity including a sixth nuclear test on Sept.
3, Pyongyang did not disrupt last month's party congress with
another test as some analysts had expected. It has not tested a
missile since launching one over Japan on Sept. 15, the longest such
lull this year.
But Zhao said this was likely due to "technical reasons rather than
"There are no signs that they are going to give up on additional
missile or nuclear tests," he said.
Nam Seong-wook, a professor of North Korea Studies at Korea
University in Seoul, said Xi's reply to Kim could be interpreted as
"China's strategic ambition to embrace both North Korea and South
Korea" ahead of Trump's visits to South Korea and China.
Xi has previously sent messages to Kim, most recently last year when
Xi expressed his congratulations for a party congress in North
Korea. Neither leader has visited the other's country since assuming
Kim sent a congratulatory message to Xi last week at the end of
China's Communist Party Congress, wishing him "great success" as
head of the nation.
(Reporting by Soyoung Kim in SEOUL and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING;
Additional reporting by Philip Wen in BEIJING; Editing by Tony
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