Chinese President Hu Jintao has expressed his support for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and has vowed to maintain close ties with the pariah state despite threats issued to South Korea.
On Monday, President Hu Jintao, welcomed Kim Yong Il, a top representative of the North Korean Worker's Party to Beijing. According to media reports, Hu praised China-North Korean relations and told Kim at the Great Hall of the People that "we will carry on the tradition, boost strategic communication and coordination on key international issues and work for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula."
Hu also said the leadership of the new head of state, Kim Jong Un, would enable North Koreans to "blaze new trails and make new achievements in the cause of building a prosperous and strong country."
Kim, who is thought to be in his late 20s, assumed power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in December last year.
He was reported by the North Korean Central News Agency as responding to the Chinese president by saying: "It is the steadfast stand of our party and government to invariably develop the traditional DPRK-China friendship provided and cultivated by the leaders of elder generations of the two countries."
Flexing its muscle
Meanwhile, observers believe North Korea is currently planning to carry out a third nuclear test. One source with ties to Pyongyang and Beijing told the Reuters news agency preparations were "almost complete."
The news came after new threats from North Korea. On Monday, North Korea issued a military statement calling South Korean President Lee Myung-bak a "rat" and a "bastard" and threatening to turn its southern neighbor to "ashes" through "unprecedented, peculiar means."
Earlier this month, Pyongyang was lambasted by the international community when it launched a long-range rocket. It said it was carrying a weather satellite but critics said it was a test of long-range missile technology. The UN Security Council, including China, censured the launch. The rocket fell into the sea shortly after take-off.
Media reports suggested the carrier used to transport the Unha-3 had been supplied by a Chinese company. China has denied supplying the vehicle.
sb/ act (AP, AFP, Reuters)