China, North Korea reaffirm ‘friendly, cooperative’ ties

Seoul: North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho held delegation-level talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and touted “friendly and cooperative” relations between Beijing and Pyongyang, the North Korean state media said on Thursday.

Ri and Wang had an “in-depth and extensive discussion” on ways of improving bilateral ties and discussed mutual issues concerning the current situation of the Korean Peninsula, the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, citing a report by South’s Yonhap News Agency.

“They also candidly exchanged their opinions on the matters of mutual concern including the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Both sides welcome the planned summit between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” the KCNA report said.

Wang, who arrived in North Korea on Wednesday is on a two-day visit. He is the first Chinese Foreign Minister to visit North Korea in 11 years.

The visit comes after the two Koreas held a historic summit at Panmunjom in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) last week. Both the Korean countries agreed to end hostilities and sign a peace treaty later this year to end the 65-year-old Korean War and the complete denuclearisation of the peninsula.

Wang’s visit to North Korea also comes as relations between Beijing and Pyongyang have begun to improve, following the latter’s repeated nuclear tests and missile provocations. Also, North Korea is China’s sole and longtime economic ally.

On a related note, North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un made a surprised and an unannounced visit to Beijing in March and met with President Xi Jinping to improve bilateral relations between the two countries.

Kim’s visit to China was the first visit by the North Korean leader after he came to power in 2011. Subsequently, Ri visited China last month on a rare diplomatic trip and held talks with Wang, discussing the outcome of President Xi-Kim meet.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to visit North Korea soon. (ANI)