Published : 2012-04-23 21:41
Updated : 2012-04-23 21:41
BEIJING (AFP) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday told a visiting North Korean official that the two countries should work towards "peace and stability" after a missile launch by Pyongyang, state media said.
Speaking in a meeting with Kim Yong-il, a top official of North Korea's ruling Korean Workers' Party, Hu called for greater cooperation with its traditional ally, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
China is the sole major ally and a source of economic support for the isolated state.
"We will... strengthen strategic links and coordination on major international and regional issues for the purpose of safeguarding lasting peace and stability of the Korean peninsula," Hu was quoted as saying.
His remarks follow the April 13 launch of what Pyongyang says was a communications satellite, but which the United States has called a disguised ballistic missile test. It said the rocket disintegrated minutes after launch.
The United States and other critics have said the launch violated United Nations restrictions imposed on North Korea. The UN Security Council strongly condemned it and said it would tighten existing sanctions.
The Xinhua report made no specific mention of the missile launch. However, China has previously voiced misgivings over its neighbour's defiant act.
Speaking before the launch, Hu expressed "serious concern" about the plan during a meeting last month with U.S. President Barack Obama.
In Monday's meeting, Hu praised North Korea's new leader Kim Jong-un, saying he would lead the country to new achievements.
Kim Jong-un took the reins of the poor and isolated state after the death in December of his father, longtime supreme leader Kim Jong-il.
Hu's remarks echo China's top diplomat who met with the visiting North Korean official a day earlier.
Dai Bingguo, who is China's most senior official on foreign policy, on Sunday praised the leadership of North Korea and vowed closer ties despite the international outcry over the recent missile launch.
Dai told Kim Yong-il that Beijing would work with Pyongyang to "push friendly and cooperative China-North Korean relations to a new level", a statement released by China's foreign ministry said.
"Under the leadership of Korean Workers' Party First Secretary, comrade Kim Jong-un, the North Korean Party, government and people will certainly make new achievements in the cause of building a strong and prosperous country," Dai was quoted as saying.
The State Department said Friday that it had raised with China allegations that Beijing supplied North Korea with technology for its missile program.
The allegations were made last week by U.S. Congressman Mike Turner, who cited an expert as saying a new missile launcher unveiled in a Pyongyang military parade was likely based on a Chinese design.
North Korea has defiantly pledged to follow up the missile launch with further tests.
A South Korean newspaper, quoting government sources in Seoul, reported Saturday that North Korea may be preparing for its third nuclear test, possibly within two weeks.