SEOUL (REUTERS) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent a rare congratulatory message to China's President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, the North's state media said on Thursday (Oct 26), wishing the Chinese leader "great success" in his future tasks as head of the nation.
It was a warm overture from the North Korean leader, who rarely issues personal messages, as China is being urged by the international community to do more to rein in the North's missile and nuclear tests that have raised tensions globally.
"It expressed the conviction that the relations between the two parties and the two countries would develop in the interests of the peoples of the two countries," the North's state-run central news agency said in a statement, citing the message sent by Kim to Xi.
"The Chinese people have entered the road of building socialism with the Chinese characteristics in the new era" under the guidance of Xi, the message also said.
The letter came just a day after China wrapped up its week-long conclave which unveiled a new leadership line-up without naming a clear successor.
Before the 19th Party Congress began on Oct 18, South Korea said it expects more provocative moves from North Korea to coincide with the Oct 10 founding anniversary of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party of Korea and China's 19th Party Congress.
In May, Pyongyang tested a missile capable of hitting the US territory of Guam - just as Mr Xi was about to inaugurate the Belt and Road Forum, a global meeting centred on his signature trade initiative.
On Sept 3, North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test - hours before Mr Xi addressed an annual summit of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations in Xiamen.
Pyongyang did not conduct any tests during the week-long 19th Party Congress which saw President Xi further cementing his grip on power in China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular briefing on Thursday that China had received congratulatory messages from many countries and parties, including one from North Korea.
“China and North Korea are close neighbours and have a tradition of friendly contact,” he said, without elaborating. China has said it will strictly enforce UN Security Council sanctions banning imports of North Korean coal, textiles and seafood, while cutting off oil shipments to the North.
China is the North's sole major ally, and accounts for more than 90 per cent of trade with the isolated country.
Beijing has been called upon by several countries, especially the United States, to step up its efforts to curb North Korea's ambitions towards building a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile that can reach the United States.
China has said it will strictly enforce UN Security Council sanctions banning imports of coal, textiles and seafood, while cutting off oil shipments to the North.