China’s President Xi Jinping has stressed the significance of “friendly” ties with North Korea during a recent visit by a high-ranking Pyongyang official, a report says.
According to North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), President Xi told top North Korean official Ri Su-Yong – a former foreign minister – in Beijing that “China places great value on the friendly cooperative relationship” with its neighbor.
Ri sought the enhancement of bilateral economic cooperation and updated the Chinese president on the North’s ruling party congress last month, the report noted.
On May 10, thousands of North Koreans held a massive rally and parade in the capital Pyongyang to mark the end of the ruling party’s first congress in over three decades. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presided over the large demonstration, which was held in Pyongyang’s main ceremonial square.
According KCNA, Ri also defended his country’s rights to maintain a nuclear deterrent against the US and its allies.
However, the Chinese president expressed hope that “all sides could remain calm, increase communication and dialogue and protect regional peace and stability.”
North Korea declared itself a nuclear power in 2005 and carried out four nuclear weapons tests — in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2016.
It also launched a long-range rocket February this year, which Pyongyang said was aimed at placing an earth observation satellite into orbit. However, the US and South Korea denounced the move as a cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile test.
North Korea says it is strengthening its defense capabilities to protect itself against hostile countries, including the US. Pyongyang accuses Washington of plotting with regional allies to topple its government.
China has accused the US of interfering in regional affairs and deliberately stirring tensions on the troubled Korean Peninsula and in the South China Sea.
US blocks North’s access to financial system
The United States has recently moved to dissuade foreign banks from working with North Korea by threatening action against international financial transaction with Pyongyang.
The US administration issued a warning Wednesday, with the Treasury Department designating North Korea as a “primary money laundering concern.”
Treasury officials said they are moving to ban non-US banks and entities from processing dollar transactions on behalf of North Korea in a move to block Pyongyang’s international trade.
“Today’s action is a further step toward severing banking relationships with North Korea, and we expect all governments and financial authorities to do likewise,” said Treasury’s top sanctions official, Adam Szubin.
US law already generally prohibited American financial institutions from engaging in transactions with North Korean institutions.
The latest US move comes as North Korea has begun a 200-day battle to boost the country’s sanctions-hit economy as part of a five-year economic plan.
The country has been targeted with international sanctions over its nuclear and missile activities. Back in March, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved the toughest sanctions on Pyongyang in two decades.