North Korean soldiers march during a military parade at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang on September 9, 2018, to mark the 70th anniversary of North Korea's founding day in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency. YONHAP/VNA Photo
SEOUL — Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin highlighted strong ties with North Korea in congratulatory messages sent to leader Kim Jong-un on the occasion of the country's founding anniversary, according to Pyongyang's state media on Monday.
North Korea marks the 71st anniversary of its state founding on Monday as it is intensifying efforts to strengthen ties with China and Russia apparently in a bid to strengthen its diplomatic hand amid stalemated nuclear talks with Washington.
Kim visited China four times since March last year for summit meetings with Xi. He held his first summit with Putin in April in Russia's Far East town of Vladivostok.
"Comrade Chairman (Kim Jong-un) made four visits to China since last year and I paid a successful state visit to the DPRK in June this year. I am rejoiced over the fact that the broad common understanding made between us is being actively put into practice," Xi said in a message carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
"I am ready to carry forward and develop the traditional China-DPRK friendship together with Comrade Chairman and propel the further development of the friendly and co-operative ties between the two countries in the new historical period and thus bring greater happiness to the two countries and two peoples," he added.
DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Xi's visit to Pyongyang marked the first of its kind by a Chinese head of state in 14 years. The KCNA earlier reported that the two agreed to strengthen relations between the two countries for regional peace and stability during their meeting in June.
Putin also emphasised the importance of closer ties between the two countries in his congratulatory message to Kim.
"I am convinced that further developing the bilateral dialogue and co-operation in various fields complies with the fundamental interests of the peoples of the two countries and contributes to consolidating the security and stability in the Korean peninsula and the Northeast Asian region as a whole," he added.
Mentioning his April summit with Kim, Putin said the meeting proved that the relations between the two countries "assume friendly and constructive nature."
North Korea appears to be marking this year's anniversary without much fanfare as the country is focused on efforts to recover from the damage caused by Typhoon Lingling.
On Sunday, the KCNA reported that the typhoon left five people dead and three others injured. It also reported that strong winds and rains caused losses of crops in 46,200 hectares of farmland, adding that nationwide recovery efforts are currently under way. — YONHAP