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(LEAD) Xi sends message to NK leader on friendly ties, regional peace

All Headlines 11:41 September 09, 2015

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 3,6,12-14)

SEOUL, Sept. 9 (Yonhap) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping has sent a message to North Korea's leader to mark the 67th anniversary of the North Korean government's founding, hoping to consolidate their friendly ties and ensure regional peace, the North's media said Wednesday.

Xi's message came as relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have been frayed following the North's nuclear test in early 2013 and missile tests. North Korea is China's only treaty ally.

China's leader sent the congratulatory message to the North's young leader, Kim Jong-un, on Tuesday as Pyongyang celebrates the 67th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean government on Wednesday, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

"We will join the DPRK to promote a protracted, sound and stable development of the China-DPRK relations, steadily consolidate the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries and thus make a positive contribution to peace, stability and development in the region," Xi was quoted as saying by the KCNA.

The DPRK is the acronym of North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

China sends a congratulatory message to the North every year on the occasion of the North's founding anniversary. But analysts said that this year's message reflects China's intent to mend its ties with the North while warning against possible provocation.

The message came as North Korea is widely expected to launch a long-range missile on Oct. 10, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party.

Xi held a summit with President Park Geun-hye in Beijing last week, the sixth such meeting between the two leaders since Park took office in early 2013.

Park expressed gratitude to Xi for the constructive role Beijing has played in defusing heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula

The North's leader has yet to visit China since taking power in late 2011 in an indication of the chilly ties between the North and China.

Choe Ryong-hae, secretary of the Central Committee of North Korean Workers' Party, attended China's high-profile military parade held last week. But diplomatic sources said that Xi did not hold a one-on-one meeting with Choe.

The Unification Ministry refrained from officially commenting on the meaning of Xi's message.

"It is not proper to make comments as it is a matter between China and North Korea. It has been a diplomatic tradition that the two sides have exchanged congratulatory messages," Jeong Joon-hee, ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing.

Chang Yong-seok, a researcher at the Seoul National University Institute for Peace and Unification Studies, said that Xi's message appears to be intended to mend fences with Pyongyang for diplomatic balance amid signs of deepening ties between Beijing and Seoul.


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