China, North Korea hold high-level meeting amid missile launches

BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with a senior North Korean official in Beijing on Monday, coinciding with Pyongyang’s launch of a missile capable of reaching anywhere in the United States.

China always views its ties with North Korea from a strategic and long-term perspective, the foreign ministry said in a statement, citing Wang’s comments in the meeting with North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Pak Myong Ho.

Beijing is willing to strengthen two-way communication and co-ordination while deepening exchanges and co-operation, Wang added.

Wang and Pak exchanged views on issues of “common concern”, on which the ministry did not elaborate.

The meeting was held in a friendly atmosphere, Pyongyang’s state media KCNA said, North Korea’s ambassador to China Ri Ryong-nam also present.

North Korea is officially China’s only ally. Both are bound by a treaty signed in 1961 to take all necessary measures, including military assistance, to help each other in the event of an attack or an attempted attack by a third country.

North Korea’s Monday missile launch came after the firing of a short-range ballistic missile on Sunday night.

Pyongyang has condemned the United States for orchestrating what it called a “preview of a nuclear war,” including the arrival of a nuclear-powered U.S. submarine in South Korea on Sunday.

All of North Korea’s ballistic missile activities are banned by United Nations Security Council resolutions, though Pyongyang defends them as its sovereign right to self-defence.

North Korea will keep strengthening multilateral ties with China to “safeguard common interests” and “maintain regional peace and stability,” Pak was cited as saying in the Chinese statement.

Pak arrived in Beijing last week on a rare official visit ahead of the 75th anniversary next year of the establishment of diplomatic ties.

A spokesperson of China’s foreign ministry said the Korean peninsula issue was complex, and urged dialogue by all concerned parties to resolve their issues.

“Attempts to solve the problem through military deterrence and pressure will not work,” Wang Wenbin told a regular press conference. “They will only backfire, further intensifying contradictions and tension.”

(Reporting by Ryan Woo and Liz Lee; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Clarence Fernandez)