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China FM hails ‘firm support’ in meeting with N Korean diplomat

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and a North Korean official expressed firm support and trust in their nation’s ties during a meeting on Monday, Beijing said, as other countries condemned Pyongyang’s latest missile test. “The traditional friendship between China and North Korea… is a valuable asset shared by both sides,” Wang told Pak Myong Ho, the North Korean vice-minister of foreign affairs who is leading a delegation to Beijing. “In the face of the turbulent international situation, China and North Korea have always firmly supported and trusted each other, demonstrating the strategic significance of friendly bilateral cooperation,” Wang added, according to a Chinese foreign ministry readout. North Korea on Monday extended its record-breaking number of weapons tests this year with the launch of an ICBM-class missile that has a potential range covering all of the United States, according to Japan’s defence ministry. The readout of the meeting between Wang and Pak in Beijing said both sides “exchanged views on issues of common concern” but did not give specific details of what was discussed. Asked for China’s reaction to the missile launch at the foreign ministry’s regular press briefing later Monday, spokesman Wang Wenbin said Beijing had “noted the latest developments”. “The peninsular issue is complex and intricate,” he said, adding that “military deterrence and pressure” would only heighten tensions. “We hope that all relevant parties will… take practical actions to promote progress towards a political settlement, and safeguard peace and stability on the peninsula.” China is North Korea’s main political and economic backer but relations ground to a standstill after Pyongyang sealed its borders in 2020 following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. There are now signs the diplomatically isolated nation is reopening, with leader Kim Jong Un as well as other officials and athletes making rare overseas trips in recent months. On Saturday, North Korean state news agency KCNA said Pak was heading a delegation to Beijing and had “exchanged views on… strengthening the bilateral relations in 2024” with his Chinese counterpart Sun Weidong.

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