The high-ranking Chinese official, visiting North Korea for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice, met with Kim Thursday. The Chinese leader's visit comes when the traditional strong ties between the two Communist countries remain strained after China's strongly objected North Korea's third nuclear test in February and supported U.N. Security Council resolution to tighten sanctions against the isolated, impoverished country.
China, despite its close ties with North Korea, has been firm on the denuclearization issue.
In talks with the North Korean leader, Li said as a neighbor of the Korean Peninsula, China "persisted in the realization of its denuclearization and the maintenance of its peace and stability," the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Li also said China would like to push the resumption of the six-party talks that want North Korea to give up its nuclear program in return for massive aid. The talks, which include the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the United States, have remained idled since 2009.
Referring to the armistice, Li, a member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo, said, "Reviewing history, we deeply feel that today's peace is hard earned and should be cherished doubly."
He said with the bilateral relationship entering a new period, China is prepared to work with North Korea to strengthen mutual trust and cooperation in various fields.
Kim was quoted as saying North Korea values its traditional friendship with China and his country supports China's efforts to restart the six-party talks, Xinhua said.
China's stand on the North's denuclearization was again spelled out at the recently concluded U.S.-China annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue. Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said his country "will remain committed to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and upholding peace and stability on the peninsula."
Separately, in a commentary piece Thursday, Xinhua, while noting the landscape of Northeast Asia and the rest of the world had profoundly changed since the armistice, said China and North Korea "still enjoy strong traditional ties."
It also said China and the United States, among the warring parties during the Korean War, now aspire to build "a new paradigm of ties between major countries of the world," while China and South Korea already have become major trading partners.
"One thing is clear: If the Korean Peninsula issue cannot be solved by military means 60 years ago, it is still the case for today," Xinhua said.
In March, at the height of the tensions with South Korea, North Korea had vowed to nullify the armistice and warned even stronger countermeasures if the United States and South Korea continued with their joint military drills.