(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES throughout with greetings exchanged by Kim, Xi)
SEOUL, Oct. 6 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Chinese President Xi Jinping exchanged letters of greeting Sunday to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of their bilateral ties and vowed to further develop their relations, the North's state media reported.
In a letter sent to Xi carried by the Korean Central News Agency, Kim described the establishment of their diplomatic ties an "epochal event" and said their friendship will be "immortal."
Kim said the North Korea-China relations have entered a "crucial period" and vowed to carry forward the "excellent traditions" of their friendship.
"I, firmly holding hands together with Comrade General Secretary, will strengthen and develop the DPRK-China friendship as desired by the peoples of the two countries to be envied by the world," Kim was quoted as saying. DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Xi referred to their relations as a "valuable asset" common to the two countries and said that it is the "consistent and firm policy of" China to "consolidate and develop" its relations with North Korea.
"I am giving high priority to the development of China-DPRK relations and value mutual trust and friendship with you Comrade Chairman," Xi was quoted as saying, noting that North Korea was "among the first countries that established diplomatic relations" with China.
Pyongyang and Beijing have been tightening their strong ties in recent months, with their leaders holding five summit talks since March last year.
In a show of their strong ties, Xi visited Pyongyang in June, marking the first trip by a Chinese head of state to North Korea in 14 years.
Earlier in the day, the North's main newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, also issued a commentary, vowing to develop the bilateral relations with China "regardless of the international situation."
"Our people will, as in the past, hold hands with the Chinese people and continue our struggle for regional peace and a security guarantee ... and put an all-out effort to continue development of the two countries' friendly ties," the newspaper said.
(LEAD) Na bows out of PPP leadership race
(2nd LD) Na bows out of PPP leadership race
Lawmaker tables bill on mandating nonflammable material in noise tunnels
Nat'l pension anticipated to be fully drained in 2055: NPS
300 won in cashable points to be provided for every cafe beverage bought in reusable cups
N. Korean leader's sister condemns U.S. provision of tanks to Ukraine
(LEAD) Two Chinese warplanes entered KADIZ earlier this week: S. Korean military
Seoul education chief convicted in hiring of fired teachers; seat at risk
(LEAD) S. Korea to seek normalization of relations with N. Korea this year: unification ministry
Two Chinese warplanes entered KADIZ earlier this week: S. Korean military