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60 yrs of friendship: China, North Korea vow to boost ties in face of foreign hostility

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
North Korean leader Kim Jon-un (R) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping during Xi's visit in Pyongyang, North Korea on June 21, 2019. (Photo via Reuters)

North Korea and China have hailed the 60th anniversary of their friendship treaty, vowing to further strengthen bilateral relations in the face of hostile foreign adversaries.

In a message sent to Chinese President Xi Jinping, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said it is “the fixed stand” of his government to “ceaselessly develop the friendly and cooperative relations” between the countries, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Sunday.

“Despite the unprecedentedly complicated international situation in recent years, the comradely trust and militant friendship between the DPRK and China gets stronger day by day,” Kim was quoted as saying.

The treaty, he said, is defending socialism and peace in Asia “now that the hostile forces become more desperate in their challenge and obstructive moves.”

Signed in 1961, the China-DPRK Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance is currently the only defense treaty China and North Korea have with any nation.

In his message, the Chinese president also said he plans to strengthen communication with North Korea “by steadily leading the relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries to a new stage.”

In a separate statement, Wang Wenbin a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Wednesday that the treaty, which has for decades promised peaceful cooperation between the two nations, will remain in effect all the time until Beijing and Pyongyang reach an agreement to amend or terminate it.

He said that China, North Korea’s major ally, “will continue to play a constructive role, until lasting peace and stability is achieved on the Korean Peninsula.”

“China's position on the Korean Peninsula issue is always clear,” Wang said. “The issue of the Korean Peninsula is at China's doorstep.”

Wang noted that the US should attach importance to addressing the legitimate and reasonable concerns of North Korea, and support inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation.

North Korea has long been under harsh United Nations sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs. The US has spearheaded those sanctions and has imposed several rounds of its own.

Former US president Donald Trump met with Kim three times, but he refused to relieve any of the sanctions in return for several steps taken by Pyongyang toward denuclearization.

That hampered further diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington and prompted Kim to announce an end to a moratorium on the country’s missile tests.

Pyongyang has blasted Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, for pursuing a similar “hostile policy” after the US president said he would deal with the “threat” posed by the North's nuclear program “through diplomacy as well as stern deterrence.”

North Korea’s foreign minister has ruled out “any contact” with Washington, saying negotiations with the US would lead “nowhere.”

“We are not considering even the possibility of any contact with the US, let alone having it, which would get us nowhere, only taking up precious time," Ri Son-gwon said in a statement carried by KCNA on Wednesday.

The White House claimed that Biden was open to negotiations with Pyongyang on denuclearization.

Pyongyang insists that its missile and nuclear programs are defensive measures in response to the persisting US military collusion with neighboring South Korea and the holding of massive war games near its territorial waters, which it regards as practice operations to invade the North.

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