Xi Jinping wants to take the “next step” with North Korea

The message of support comes as North Korea has stepped up its weapons tests in recent months, prompting disapproval from the United States and its Japanese, South Korean and Western allies.

The “traditional friendship” between China and North Korea “has long withstood the tests of changes in the international situation,” Xi Jinping told Kim Jong Un in a message cited by a North Korean state agency.

“I will not stop working to take the friendship and cooperation between the two sides to the next level,” the Chinese president added, stressing that international relations in the world and in Asia are “becoming more serious and complex.”

KCNA released the news shortly before a joint statement by G7 foreign ministers condemning North Korea’s weapons tests and calling for it to refrain from further nuclear tests or ballistic missile launches or risk punishment.

China is North Korea’s main ally and largest economic backer. During the Korean War (1950-1953) Mao Tse-tung sent millions of “volunteers” to fight the US-led United Nations forces.

In 1961, Beijing and Pyongyang signed the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in the event of an armed attack. Mao later described the allies as close as “lips and teeth”.

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