North Korean, Chinese leaders pledge to deepen ties

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – The North Korean and Chinese leaders on Sunday expressed their desire to further strengthen their ties as they exchanged messages marking the 60th anniversary of their countries’ defense treaty.

In a message to Chinese President Xi Jinping, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said it was his government’s “fixed position” to “continually develop friendly and cooperative relations” between countries, said the official Korean central news agency.

Xi said in his message that “he is ready to bring greater happiness to the two countries (…) by strengthening strategic communication with (Kim) to properly control the direction of the advance of China- (Korea) relations. of the North) and continuing to take the relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries to a new stage, ”KCNA said.

North Korea is expected to seek greater support from China, its main ally and aid benefactor, as it grapples with economic hardship exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and crippling people. US-led sanctions against its nuclear weapons program. China, for its part, sees preventing a collapse of North Korea to be crucial to its security interests and should strengthen ties with North Korea and other traditional allies amid fierce rivalry with China. the United States, according to some experts.

Kim said in his message that the bilateral treaty “shows greater vitality in defending and propelling the socialist cause of both countries … now that the hostile forces are becoming more desperate in their challenges and obstructionist movements.”

Under the 1961 treaty, North Korea and China pledged to offer each other immediate military and other assistance in the event of an attack.

North Korea’s ties to China date back to the 1930s, when Kim Jong Un’s grandfather Kim Il Sung led the Korean guerrillas as they fought alongside Chinese soldiers against Japanese colonizers in the north. -est of China. The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1949, a year before North Korea launched a surprise attack on South Korea and started a three-year war that left hundreds of thousands dead.

China fought alongside North Korea in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, while United States-led UN forces supported South Korea. About 28,500 American troops are still stationed in South Korea to deter possible aggression from North Korea. China is not deploying troops to North Korea.

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