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North Korea, China agree to boost strategic communications and defend common interests

North Korea and China have agreed to bolster tactical cooperation and defend their common interests.

In a statement, the Chinese foreign ministry said Beijing and Pyongyang have agreed to strengthen strategic communications “at all levels” and deepen their cooperation, a few hours after Chinese Foreign Vice Minister Sun Weidong met with North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui in Pyongyang.

According to the statement, both sides reaffirmed their “unswerving stance” on maintaining, consolidating and developing bilateral ties.

The North’s official KCNA news agency said Saturday the two senior officials agreed to strengthen tactical cooperation and defend common interests.

North Korea, which is under harsh sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council and the United States over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs for years, strives to further strengthen its ties with its two traditional closest allies, namely permanent members China and Russia.

Moscow and Beijing used to vote against Pyongyang’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs, but since 2017, they have refused to join in imposing more sanctions on the peninsular country. Since then, they have backed the North’s position that it is exercising its right to self defense, stressing that only thorough dialog and diplomatic means the North’s issue can be solved.

China and Russia have been using their veto powers at the UNSC against efforts spearheaded by the US to pile up more sanctions on North Korea over Pyongyang’s missile tests, which have been growing in response to the US’s increasing military presence and joint war games with allies, South Korea and Japan, in the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea, for its part, has backed Russia over the war in Ukraine, insisting that the “hegemonic policy” of the US-led NATO military alliance of Western governments forced Moscow to take military action to protect its national security interests.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un has repeatedly said his government is building up its military arsenal in preparation for potential war by the West that could “break out at any time” on the peninsula.

Pyongyang has previously warned that the US is increasing provocations of a “nuclear war” by deploying nuclear-capable bombers to the region.