(ATTN: UPDATES with context, arrival of N. Korean official in Beijing; ADDS background)
SEOUL, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has expressed support to Chinese President Xi Jinping over China's efforts to stop the spread of a new strain of coronavirus that has killed 259 Chinese people and sickened more than 11,000.
On Saturday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said that Kim "conveyed his sincere feelings of wanting to share the suffering and trial of the fraternal Chinese people and to render help even a bit" in a letter to Xi.
Kim also sent "militant greetings" to the Chinese president and expressed the conviction that China would emerge victorious in its campaign to combat the deadly virus.
The virus -- which was first reported in Wuhan on Dec. 31 -- has spread to around 20 countries, including South Korea, the United States, Japan and Canada, prompting the World Health Organization to declare the coronavirus outbreak a global emergency.
North Korea also sent financial aid to the Chinese Communist Party, the KCNA reported without elaborating on the nature of the fund.
It is very rare for North Korea, one of the world's poorest countries, to provide aid to the world's second-largest economy.
North Korea has relied heavily on China for trade, aid and diplomatic support in recent years. Bilateral ties have been described as being as close as "lips and teeth."
Also Saturday, Kim Song-nam, first vice director handling relations with China at North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, arrived in Beijing, a source said. The purpose of his visit is unknown.
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