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China stands by mutual defense treaty with North Korea after 60 years

China reaffirmed strong ties with North Korea ahead of a bilateral anniversary Sunday. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
China reaffirmed strong ties with North Korea ahead of a bilateral anniversary Sunday. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

July 7 (UPI) -- A bilateral defense treaty between China and North Korea remains in effect, Beijing said ahead of a renewal that is likely to take place around Sunday, the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance.

The affirmation of strong ties with Pyongyang comes after U.S. and Chinese diplomats held talks regarding North Korea.

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Wednesday at a regular press briefing that the 1961 treaty was a "strategic decision made with foresight by the older generation of leaders of the two countries and a major event in the history of bilateral relations."

The treaty "remains in force until agreement is reached on its amendment or termination," Wang said.

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Signed by former Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and North Korea's Kim Il Sung, the accord requires the two countries to respond jointly to an attack on either nation. The agreement was last renewed in 2001.

Wang, who also referred to the Korean Peninsula as "China's doorstep," said China's Special Representative for North Korea Liu Xiaoming is "actively engaging in communication with various parties."

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"China will continue to play a constructive role until lasting peace and stability is realized on the peninsula," the Chinese spokesman said.

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Yonhap reported Tuesday that U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim spoke to Liu on the phone, citing a source at the U.S. State Department.

Liu told the U.S. envoy that China would permit Pyongyang to reduce its nuclear arsenal while "gaining concessions," according to Kyodo News.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have yet to meet.

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National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell said Tuesday at an online Asia Society event that he expects the two leaders will meet at the G20 summit in October.

Campbell also said the United States does not support Taiwan independence, according to Nikkei Asia.

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