China's Xi sends rare message to Kim
SEOUL Chinese President Xi Jinping has sent North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a rare message, Pyongyang's official news agency reported yesterday, in his first public communication with his wayward neighbour for more than a year.
The note signalled a possible improvement in their strained relationships, which has soured over Pyongyang's growing weapons ambitions even though Beijing is its long-time ally and economic benefactor.
Mr Xi's message, dated Wednesday, was sent in response to congratulations from Mr Kim last week for securing a second term as the head of China's ruling party.
"I wish that under the new situation the Chinese side would make efforts with the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) side to promote the relations between the two parties and the two countries to sustainable soundness and stable development," Mr Xi said, according to the North's KCNA news agency, addressing Mr Kim as "Comrade Chairman".
In his earlier note, Mr Kim had offered Mr Xi his "sincere congratulations" and expressed his belief that their relations would develop "in the interests of the people of the two countries".
The last time KCNA reported a message from Mr Xi was in July last year.
Analysts said that such exchanges have become extremely rare under the current leaders, even though Beijing and Pyongyang had traditionally sent greetings and congratulations on each other's key anniversaries in the past.
Their relationship was forged in the blood of the Korean War in the 1950s, when Mao Zedong sent millions of "volunteers" to fight US-led United Nations forces to a standstill. - AFP