BEIJING • China hopes all parties on the Korean peninsula will remain calm and exercise restraint, President Xi Jinping told a senior visiting North Korean envoy yesterday , after the isolated state rattled nerves with a failed missile test.
The rare meeting in Beijing between Mr Xi and one of North Korea's highest-profile officials, career diplomat Ri Su Yong, follows a flurry of weapons tests in the run-up to the first congress in 36 years of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party in May, when young leader Kim Jong Un consolidated his control.
China is reclusive North Korea's only major ally but has been angered by its nuclear and missile programmes. China signed up to harsh new United Nations sanctions against North Korea in March in response to its fourth nuclear test in January and a satellite launch in February.
Mr Xi told Mr Ri that China set great store by the friendly relationship between the two countries, and was willing to work with North Korea to consolidate that friendship, China's official Xinhua news agency said in a report. "China's position on the peninsula issue is clear and consistent. We hope all sides remain calm and exercise restraint, increase communication and dialogue and maintain regional peace and stability," Xinhua quoted Mr Xi as saying.
There was no direct mention of Tuesday's failed missile test, the latest in a string of unsuccessful ballistic missile tests by North Korea.
Mr Ri passed on a message to Mr Xi from Mr Kim, Xinhua said, in which Mr Kim expressed a desire to work hard with China to maintain peace and stability on the peninsula and across north-east Asia.
Mr Xi welcomed Mr Ri's visit to report on the North Korean party congress, which Mr Xi said showed the importance Mr Kim attached to ties with China, Xinhua added. Mr Xi said he hoped North Korea could achieve even greater achievements in improving its economy and people's livelihoods, Xinhua said.
The United States plans to use high-level Sino-US talks in Beijing next week to discuss ways to bring greater pressure to bear on North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions, a senior US official said on Tuesday. But China has been reluctant to take tougher action, such as completely shutting its border with North Korea, for fear that North Korea could collapse in chaos.