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(LEAD) Xi congratulates N.K. leader on state founding anniversary, stresses stronger ties

All News 09:55 September 09, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS N.K. military movements in last 2 paras)
By Yi Wonju

SEOUL, Sept. 9 (Yonhap) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping highlighted growing ties with North Korea since the coronavirus outbreak in a congratulatory message sent to leader Kim Jong-un on the occasion the North's founding anniversary, according to state media Wednesday.

North Korea marks the 72nd anniversary of its state founding Wednesday as it has been intensifying efforts to strengthen ties with China during the global coronavirus pandemic amid stalemated nuclear talks with Washington.

Pyongyang has frequently praised Beijing's success in stemming the spread of the virus since it first broke out in China last December.

"After the outbreak of COVID-19, the two countries have supported and helped each other, further developing the China-DPRK friendship," Xi said in a message carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Xi added that he gives "high priority to the development of China-DPRK relations and have a willingness to propel the traditional China-DPRK friendly and cooperative relations."

DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also sent a congratulatory message to Kim, stressing the close ties between the two countries, the KCNA said.

Putin also said the relations between the two countries have been of "friendly and good-neighborly nature traditionally" and the "constructive bilateral dialogue and beneficial cooperation" are in the interests of the two countries and contribute to promoting security and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, it added.

North Korea is unlikely to hold large-scale celebratory events to mark Wednesday's anniversary as the country has been struggling to recover from damage wrought by recent back-to-back typhoons. The North usually holds larger events on every fifth or 10th anniversary.

No unusual military activities have been detected in the North, military sources in Seoul said.

"We are closely monitoring North Korean military movements. There have not been specific moves to be noted so far regarding the anniversary," a military officer said.

The mass gymnastics and art performance "The Glorious Country" is held at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang on Sept. 9, 2018, to mark North Korea's 70th anniversary of its founding day, in this photo carried by the country's Rodong Sinmun daily newspaper. Reports said the North's leader Kim Jong-un and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, watched the performance together. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

julesyi@yna.co.kr
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