North Korea congratulates China ahead of Communist Party congress

By Elizabeth Shim  |  Oct. 17, 2017 at 9:17 PM
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Oct. 17 (UPI) -- North Korea congratulated China on the occasion of the 19th congress of the Communist Party, a rare move for Pyongyang.

Pyongyang's state-controlled new agency KCNA reported Wednesday, local time, the central committee of the Korean Workers' Party sends "warm greetings to the party, party members and the people of China on the occasion of the 19th congress of the Chinese Communist Party."

"The people of China have made great strides in carrying out socialist construction under the correct leadership of the Chinese Communist Party," the North Korean central committee said. "We consider this an extremely joyous event."

North Korea used its state media to send a similar message to China on June 30, when Beijing celebrated the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.

That message was addressed to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Pyongyang also sent a message of congratulations in 2012, during the 18th party congress, according to Yonhap.

Park Byung-kwang, the director of Northeast Asia research at the Institute for National Security Strategy in Seoul, said North Korea must send these signals to China because the world's second-largest economy plays an important role.

"No matter how frosty relations become between China and North Korea, North Korea has no intention to cut off relations," Park said.

North Korea is playing its cards carefully at a time when the U.S. State Department is not ruling out diplomacy.

Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday "diplomacy is our preferred approach."

"We're not give up on that," Nauert said.

"We want North Korea to understand that it can choose a different path. It can choose a different path. It's up to North Korea to change its course of action if they want to return to credible negotiations," Nauert said.

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