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(LEAD) China's ambassador stresses cooperation with N. Korea for regional peace

All News 11:50 June 21, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS N.K. diplomat's op-ed in paras 9-11, unification ministry's remarks in para 13-14)
By Koh Byung-joon

SEOUL, June 21 (Yonhap) -- China's top envoy to North Korea stressed the importance of cooperation between the two allies on regional peace, stability and prosperity on the occasion of the second anniversary of President Xi Jinping's visit to Pyongyang, the North's state media showed Monday.

In an op-ed piece to the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North's ruling Workers' Party, Chinese Ambassador Li Jinjun also said that China and North Korea should expand their communication as their relations are faced with a "new starting point."

"China and North Korea are well aware of the importance of peace as they have gone through tribulations all together," the ambassador said in the piece.

"They will actively contribute to regional peace, stability, development and prosperity, while strengthening communication at every possible level, and discuss issues necessary for long-term stability," he added.

Faced with a "new starting point," he said that the two countries should look forward, strengthen "strategic communication" and expand cooperation "at working levels" in a way that would deepen friendly relations and realize the consensus that their leaders have agreed upon.

Mentioning that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Chinese Communist Party, Li also emphasized that China has not changed at all in its commitment to developing relations between the two allies.

The rare op-ed by the Chinese ambassador in state media appears aimed at stressing ties with North Korea amid deepening rivalry between China and the United States.

It also came after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un urged his country to be ready for both dialogue and confrontation with the U.S. at a key party meeting held last week.

North Korea also highlighted long and friendly ties with China.

In an op-ed piece to a Chinese newspaper on Monday, Ri Ryong-nam, the North's ambassador to Beijing, urged unwavering efforts to build on their traditional and friendly ties.

"Should the North and China continue to seek solidarity and advance their strategic cooperative ties, they will be able to dispel relentless challenges and impeding schemes of hostile forces," he said.

Xi visited North Korea in June 2019, becoming the first Chinese leader to visit the communist neighbor in 14 years. Xi and Kim held a summit and promised to work together in advancing regional peace and stability.

With regard to Monday's reports on the op-eds, the unification ministry in Seoul underlined the need for regional countries to play a role in promoting "peaceful" and "stable" control of situations on the Korean Peninsula.

"It appears to be in this context that North Korea has also continued its pursuit of talks and cooperation with China," Lee Jong-joo, the ministry's spokesperson, told a regular press briefing.

Meanwhile, Li has been said to have been replaced by Wang Yajun, a senior party official, but the newly appointed envoy has not entered North Korea yet apparently due to coronavirus-prompted tight border controls between the two countries.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un take a walk at the Kumsusan State Guesthouse in Pyongyang on June 21, 2019, in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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