Amid strained ties, North Korea congratulates China on party congress

A staff member prepares reports for delegates inside the Great Hall of the People before the opening of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Beijing.

SEOUL (REUTERS) - North Korea sent a congratulatory message to China's 19th Congress of its Communist Party on Wednesday (Oct 18), amid increasingly frayed relationships between the traditional allies, as China tightens sanctions over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.

The central committee of the North's ruling Workers' Party of Korea said that China has made "great progress in accomplishing the cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics" under the correct guidance of the Communist Party of China.

"We are greatly pleased over this," the party central committee said in the message carried by the official KCNA news agency, adding that it "sincerely wished" the China congress "satisfactory success".

Officials and experts in South Korea had worried that Pyongyang may conduct a weapons test to coincide with the Oct 18 opening of the twice-a-decade Community Party congress in China.

While the United States and its allies, and many people in China, believe Beijing should do more to rein in Pyongyang, the acceleration of North Korea's nuclear and missile capabilities has coincided with a near-total breakdown of high-level diplomacy between the two.

China, Pyongyang's sole major ally and which accounts for more than 90 per cent of world trade with the isolated country, has said it will strictly enforce U.N. Security Council sanctions banning imports of coal, textiles and seafood, while cutting off oil shipments to the North.

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